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 Academic Senate of the UC San Diego, the UC San Diego Department of Music and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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

January 24, 2018

Welcome to Cara Consilvio, Stage Director

We are pleased to welcome stage director Cara Consilvio to our production. Cara is an innovative young artist who has worked multiple disciplines and thrives in inter-disciplinary projects.  Her most recent work includes critically acclaimed productions of Hydrogen Jukebox at Chautauqua Opera and Glory Denied at Tri-Cities Opera.  She has served as an assistant director for Fort Worth Opera, Opera Saratoga, Chautauqua Opera, American Opera Projects and Portland Opera and include work on world premiere operas  As One and The Long Walk.

Welcome, Cara!


January 19, 2018

WeLcome to Mary Ellen Stebbins and Josué Cerón

As our production enters its next phase of development, we are thrilled to announce that Mary Ellen Stebbins will be joining us lighting designer.   Mary Ellen has worked extensively in the field of music theater and contemporary opera, including at NYC's Prototype Festival.  Her innovative work has earned critical acclaim and we are pleased to have her with us.

It is an honor to announce that Mexican baritone Josué Cerón will join the cast in the role of the Tour Guide. Josué is a graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) and made his European debut at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, Italy on the role of Enrico in Donizetti ́s Il Campanello. He has sung throughout Mexico both in leading roles in operas of Mozart, Rossini and Puccini, and created leading roles in the contemporary operas by Riesgo by Rogelio Sosa , and Dunaxi by Roberto Morales.  Welcome, Josué !


September 1, 2017

Poet Matt Donovan on writing for The stage and Confronting Gun Violence

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


August 1,  2017

 Banff, Canada

Banff, Canada

The creative team of Inheritance enjoyed a week long residency at the Leighton Artists Colony at the Banff Center for the Arts during late June, 2017.   Composer Lei Liang, artist Ligia Bouton, librettist Matt Donovan, and soprano/producer Susan Narucki spent a week in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, meeting daily in order to discuss aspects of the composition, production and libretto at a crucial stage of development.

 Ligia Bouton, Susan Narucki and Lei Liang at the Leighton Artists Colony

Ligia Bouton, Susan Narucki and Lei Liang at the Leighton Artists Colony

Team members also met with music director Steven Schick, who currently serves as co-director of the Summer Music Program at Banff- a happy confluence of events.  "Our project grew by leaps and bounds during this week, "said Narucki.  "There is no substitute for spending time together and so many remarkable ideas emerged from our discussions."  Read more about the week in project NEWS  and follow the Inheritance blog for an in-depth look at the process.