Reveling in uncertainty is not always a joy. Loud noise creates uncertainty and can induce hallucinations. Thankfully our brains contain a gating mechanism that inhibits startled responses and modulates our sensitivity to noise. Individuals with schizophrenia lack this inhibitory mechanism. Their impaired sensorimotor mechanisms make them prone to a state of heightened startle, which triggers hallucinations. My recent chamber opera, Theotokia, presents the ritualistic delusional world ofthe protagonist, Leon, who suffers from schizophrenia. At the opening of the opera (heard below), Leon hears the chanting of congregants and the invocations of their spiritual leader, Mother Anne. The work charts the metamorphosis of Mother Anne from beckoning spiritual leader, to mythical and terrifying mother of god, to the voice of Leon’s actual mother. Scored for five singers, chamber ensemble and ambisonic digital audio (a three-dimensional sound field), Theotikia places the audience inside Leon’s tormented mind.
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