About the opera

Conceived in 2015, Inheritance 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 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

Music director Steven Schick  will lead the world premiere performances in a production that features multimedia design by artist Ligia Bouton.   The seventy-five minute work has a cast of four and is scored for chamber ensemble of virtuoso musicians. Inheritance will be premiered in October, 2018 at the Experimental Theater of the Conrad Prebys Music Center at the UC San Diego with soprano/producer Susan Narucki in the role of Sarah Winchester.   

Inheritance is supported by the Creative Capital Foundation, the University of California at 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.

About the team

Inheritance brings together award-winning creative and performing artists in a unique artist-led collaborative model.  The team seeks to create a contemporary chamber opera of high artistic value that will speak an an issue of critical importance in contemporary American society. 

How did the Inheritance opera project come about?  Composer Lei Liang, librettist Matt Donovan and artist Ligia Bouton met in Italy, while Lei and Matt they were both recipients of the 2011 Rome Prize, in Composition and Literature, respectively.  Soprano/producer Susan Narucki, and conductor Steven Schick are also part of a series of intersecting circles of collaboration.  Learn more about our process and follow our project, beginning with a video conversation with librettist Matt Donovan.

More about the Inheritance residency at the Leighton Artists Colony

July 23, 2018


Tickets to the  October 24, 2018 world premiere of Inheritance by Lei Liang and Matt Donovan are on sale now through ARTPower, UC San Diego's campus arts presenter.  Billed as one of four season special events, Inheritance will have a run of three performances in the intimate Experimental Theater of the Conrad Prebys Music Center on the UC San Diego campus.  For more information and to order tickets


June 17, 2018

San Diego Union Tribune - ArtPower to traverse wide world of music, dance and much more in 15th season at UCSD 

"......At least a few of the performances in the upcoming season will offer social commentary about the world in general and the state of this nation specifically. One of them is the premiere of “Inheritance,” a multimedia chamber opera about gun violence that features music by Lei Liang and a libretto by Matt Donovan. Steven Schick will serve as its music director while soprano Susan Narucki, the driving force behind “Inheritance,” will be the featured singer. (Liang, Schick and Narucki are all professors at UCSD.)"  Read the article by George Varga.


June 1, 2018

"Inheritance" Awarded New Music USA Project grant

New Music USA announced today its eighth round of project grants, totaling $530,000 in funding to support artistic work involving a wide range of new American music. The 108 awarded projects include concerts and recordings, as well as support for dance, theater, opera, and more, all involving contemporary music as an essential element. Of the newly awarded projects, 44% feature people of color and 63% feature female or non-binary project organizers or main collaborators.  Inheritance was among the recipients of this prestigious and competitive award. 

The overarching goal of project grants is to reach and aggregate the communities of new music enthusiasts, irrespective of genre preferences, and allow the public to discover new artistic work.

To follow the project as it unfolds, visit our project page:  https://newmusicusa.org/projects/Inheritance-a-chamber-opera

Libretto Matt Donovan on tackling the complex issue of gun violence in America.