This weekend I will perform a recent selection from Anthony Davis’ opera Lear on the Second Floor”; which premiered in 2013. Davis has made quite a name for himself around the United States and beyond for his body of work often inspired by many musical styles spanning the modern era. The piece centers around Dr. Nora Lear who is a neuroscience researcher in the early and then later stages of Alzheimers. It is also based on the Shakespeare play King Lear. The music is challenging: some parts beautiful, other parts difficult for the ear to maneuver but all meaningful. In my singing career I have worked on quite a few modern operas and this is no different in its intricacies. As a singer it enables me to tackle vocal nuance and dramatic interpretation as I go in an out of lucidity in the character of Nora.
Alzheimers hits very close to home as I have had three grandparents die from related complications to the disease. It is a terrible sentence and much worse than a physical demise in my estimation. Devastating and debilitating for the patient as well as their loved ones. Opera as a musical form seems a fitting choice to portray this disease as it is full of drama, passion, anger and intensity.
This performance is part of Arias in Ebony; by Opera Project Columbus celebrating the opera works of African American composers. The range is wide and the music moving. A unique classical showing and not to be missed!