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 Albany Records releases the world premiere recording of Lei Liang's gripping chamber opera, Inheritance featuring Grammy-winning soprano Susan Narucki, conducted by Steven Schick


Inheritance (2018) is a chamber opera that revolves around Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow and heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune. According to popular belief, she imprisoned herself in her labyrinth-like home to seek refuge from the spirits of those killed by the same weapons whose manufacture and sale gave her a life of indescribable wealth. With music by Grawemeyer Award winning composer Lei Liang and libretto by poet Matt Donovan, Inheritance juxtaposes elements of Winchester’s biography with contemporary events in a work that explores America’s deeply complex relationship with guns. Visual artist Ligia Bouton creates the production design. Grammy award winning soprano Susan Narucki commissioned and produced the opera; creating the role of Sarah Winchester.

Music director Steven Schick led the world premiere performances in a staging by innovative stage director Cara Consilvio, and lighting design by Mary Ellen Stebbins. The hour-long work has a cast of four. In addition to Narucki, Ghost 1 and Ghost 2 were played by sopranos Kirsten Ashley Wiest and Hillary Jean Young, while renowned Mexican baritone Josué Cerón created the role of the Tour Guide/Ghost.

The opera is scored for chamber ensemble of eight musicians. The musicians of the world premiere included: Mark Dresser (bass), Anthony Burr and Madison Greenstone (clarinet/bass clarinet), Takae Ohnishi (harpsichord), Pablo Gomez Cano (guitar), David Aguila (trumpet), Fiona Digney and Sean Dowgray (percussion). The recording, made in the superb acoustics of the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, was led by Grammy award winning producer Judith Sherman and assistant producer and engineer Andrew Munsey.

Inheritance had its world premiere on October 24, 2018 at the Experimental Theater of the Conrad Prebys Music Center at UC San Diego, with two subsequent performances on October 26 and October 27, 2018.

Inheritance is supported by the Creative Capital Foundation, the University of California San Diego, the UC San Diego Department of Music, UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities, New Music USA and the National Endowment for the Arts. It is a co-presentation of ArtPower and the UC San Diego Department of Music, with supplementary underwriting by Phyllis and Dan Epstein, Julia Falk and Catherine and Robert Palmer.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of an interview with the team of Inheritance.
Lei Liang and Susan Narucki discuss Inheritance at the UC San Diego studio here.