Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Exit, pursued by a carer: an opera about Alzheimer’s disease

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3526 (Published 07 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3526
  1. Alison Convey, locum senior house officer, general medicine, London
  1. alisonconvey{at}doctors.org.uk

    Alison Convey gets a fresh perspective on Alzheimer’s disease through the medium of opera

    The Lion’s Face is an opera about dementia. Immediate visions of elderly sopranos shuffling across the stage? Or exiting pursued by a carer, never to be found again? Far from it. An unlikely sounding concept, The Lion’s Face is a piece of painstaking research and artistic imagination by the composer Elena Langer and the poet Glyn Maxwell. Charting the story of Mr D, a patient with dementia in a care home, it is the product of an extraordinary collaboration between the creative team at The Opera Group and the National Institute for Health Research’s biomedical research centre for mental health, which is led by Simon Lovestone. The title of the piece refers to “leonine impassivity” of facial expression, a description associated with several conditions, including Alzheimer’s diseases. With a million people in Britain likely to have Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, the opera is an earnest endeavour to highlight and reflect on one of our society’s most daunting medical problems.

    The partnership between The Opera Group and Lovestone’s team began early in the creative process. The writer, director, and composer were given access to the diverse activities of the research centre, including visits to laboratories, …

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