Anthony Davis's opera Lear on the 2nd Floor 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 and video design by Mark DeChiazza, the cast features soprano Susan Narucki as Nora Lear.
Production premiered March, 2013 at University of San Diego's Conrad Prebys Music Center
all photos Jim Carmody