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2018/10/22

Work of the Week – Lei Liang: Inheritance

On 24 October, ArtPower and the music department of the University Of California San Diego will present the world premiere of Lei Liang’s new chamber opera Inheritance. The performance will take place at San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Music Center, with Steven Schick conducting and soprano Susan Narucki in the title role of Sarah Winchester, joined on stage by baritone Josueì Cerón and sopranos Kirsten Ashley Wiest and Hillary Jean Young.

Inheritance tells the story of eccentric widow and heiress Sarah Winchester, juxtaposing elements from her biography with contemporary incidents of gun-related violence in the US, raising issues of responsibility and atonement in its exploration of America’s complex relationship with firearms and violence. The chamber opera was commissioned and produced by Susan Narucki, with a libretto written by Matt Donovan.

Lei Liang – Inheritance: political relevance meets legend

Liang’s Inheritance explores the life of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle Company and fortune. According to popular belief, she secreted herself away in her labyrinth-like villa, seeking refuge from the spirits of those killed by the rifles which gave her indescribable wealth. Haunted by this, she continuously and chaotically expanded her house, trying to find sanctuary whilst being driven to madness.

By investigating a woman trapped in circumstances she inherited, by portraying the ways in which Sarah Winchester is reduced to perpetual acts of ineffectual penance, by interrogating a far-reaching history that extends from 19th-century massacres of Native Americans to contemporary school shootings, Inheritance hopes to raise questions about complicity, atonement and gun violence in America.Lei Liang

Two further performances of Inheritance will take place on 26 & 27 October, also at the Conrad Prebys Music Center.