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In Tune: Institute of Psychiatry explore dementia through opera

The Lion's FaceThe Institute of Psychiatry has collaborated with leading opera company, The Opera Group, on an exciting public engagement project exploring dementia through opera and poetry.

Pioneering Alzheimer's researcher Simon Lovestone, professor Old Age Psychiatry and director of the NIHR BRC for Mental Health, has been working with leading opera director and the Opera Group's Artistic Director, John Fulljames, since 2006. During that time they have brought together the BRC’s Dementia theme researchers, patients and clinicians, with writer Glyn Maxwell and composer Elena Langer, to develop an opera evoking the experiences of patient, carer and research scientist.

The Lion’s Face – a 20 minute opera – documents and reflects upon a patient's loss of perception and language and the effect it has on his wife, his carer and the carer's daughter. The project is supported through a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, given to support imaginative and experimental arts projects that investigate biomedical science, as well as by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

Professor Simon Lovestone said: "I am really excited to be working with The Opera Group on this project. Working with the arts is a great way to discuss the challenges of Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses. But what really captured my imagination in this case was the opportunity to work with some artists who were interested in a genuine dialogue – reflecting back to us aspects of the disease we might not have thought about. The use of poetry and music will help us to look at Alzheimer's disease in a different way."

The Opera will tour the UK next year.

Listen to Professor Simon Lovestone discussing his dementia research on BBC Radio 4.

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