UC San Diego's Department of Music

March 01, 2013

  Lear on the 2nd Floor, a new chamber opera by Anthony Davis with libretto by Allan Havis, premieres March 6, 8, 9 at 7 pm in the Experimental Theatre at Conrad Prebys Music Center at UC San Diego.

Ace photographer Jim Carmody, chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance, attended rehearsal on March 4. His beautiful images capture this painstakingly crafted multimedia production.

The opera is inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear and tells the story of Nora Lear, a prominent neuroscientist plagued by early-onset Alzheimer's. As she loses her bearings and autonomy she is increasingly at the mercy of her three quarreling daughters.

Shakespeare's Fool in the opera is Nora's late husband Mortimer who accompanies her as she moves through a world where the past and present blend and reality bends. Davis's music for the opera presents a unique synthesis of influences from Stravinsky, Weill, Mingus, Strayhorn, to Bob Marley. The production combines live performance with video, computer processed sound, lighting, and scenic design to express the increasing disorientation experienced by Nora.

Davis, a music faculty member, is an internationally acclaimed composer whose previous operas include X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Wakonda's Dream, Amistad, and Tania.

Havis, provost of UC San Diego Marshall College, noted playwright, and theatre faculty member, collaborated with Davis on the 2009 chamber opera Lilith.

With musical direction by Steven Schick, and stage direction by Mark DeChiazza, the cast features soprano Susan Narucki as Nora Lear, bass-baritone Philip Larson as Mortimer, Jorell Williams as the Nurse and the Lawyer, Ruff Yeager as the Doctor,  UCSD graduate students Bonnie Lander, Alice Teyssier, Tiffany Du Mouchelle and Sara Perez and the musicians of palimpsest. 

Lear on the 2nd Floor is presented by kallisti, the contemporary vocal ensemble of the UC Department of Music. Previous opera productions include the critically acclaimed 2012 production of Der Kaiser von Atlantis.

Lear on the 2nd Floor is presented in the intimate Experimental Theatre at Conrad Prebys Music Center.

UT San Diego ran this preview by music critic George Varga

Special $10.50 discount tickets for UCSD faculty-staff-alumni-retirement association. Student tickets are FREE one hour before concert with student ID. General admission is $15.50. Tickets are available online, and at the door (first-come, first-served). Box office opens each night at 5:30 pm. For more information: (858) 534-4830.

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