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This opera, Lear, draws its libretto directly from William Shakespeare's King

Lear. Some supporting characters and subplots have been removed, and some

characters have been fused to reduce the time and forces needed to produce this piece.

Parent/child relationships, eyesight, and deception/disguises are important

themes in this adapted libretto. The last point, deception and disguises, receives

special attention in the opera. Each time a character dons a disguise a

"transformation" motive is heard. Simultaneously, at least one of the woodwind

players will switch to a traditional doubling instrument to add a timbral change to the

visual change on the stage.

Two characters in the opera never sing, but only speak: Lear and Gloucester.

This separates them from the rest of the cast to highlight their paternal nature. The

music for spoken sections includes liberal use of fermatas, vamps, and other forms of

repetition to underscore the speech.

Most characters have musical motives and/or signature styles to aid in their

characterization. Goneril and Edmund are intelligent, eloquent, and manipulative.

heir music can be triadic and diatonic when they need it to be, and their lines are

often winding and chromatic. Regan and Oswald, on the other hand, are more

characters of action than thought. Their music is more blunt and to the point.

The harmony of the opera moves among diatonic, quartal, whole-tone,

octatonic, hexatonic, and more complicated harmonies, depending on the character

singing or speaking and what his motives are at that moment. At several points in the

opera, a rhythmic pattern will continue over a bar that obscures the meter. Sometimes

multiple patterns will be present at once. The harmony is at its most complicated

when these patterns overlap, or when two characters' personal motives are presented


The opera's duration is approximately two hours. The cast calls for two

sopranos, two mezzo-sopranos, two baritones, a bass-baritone, and two male actors.

The opera is scored for Flute (doubling Piccolo and Alto Flute), Oboe (doubling

English Horn), Bb Clarinet (doubling Bass Clarinet), Bassoon, Horn in F, Percussion

(one player), Piano, String Quartet, and Double Bass.