Mila, Great Sorcerer
Folk hero, singer, and spiritual teacher, Milarepa has been venerated for one thousand years. But as a child, directed by his mother, he wields black magic against the aunt and uncle that stole his inheritance, and destroys his entire village. His remorse sends him on a life journey from mass murder to enlightenment. Set to lush orchestration melding Eastern and Western sounds, his transformation and redemption into the most revered teacher of Tibetan Buddhism offer hope and spiritual wayfinding to all who regret acts of consequence and seek higher ground.
Produced by New Vision for Opera NYC
Photo By Paula Court
Commissioned by Gene Kaufman and Terry Eder Kaufman
2 hours and 20 minutes with intermission | Image courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art
It is with deep respect for Tibetan culture and practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism that Mila, Great Sorcerer was commissioned and conceived. This opera showcases an epic tale that originates in Tibet, elaborating on it to create a narrative that addresses shared human experiences, such as redemption and enlightenment. This version of Milarepa’s remarkable life is told by non-Tibetans, but with veneration for all that Tibetan culture offers the world. Renowned Himalayan artist Tsherin Sherpa contributed to the set, which also includes works from the Rubin Museum of Tibetan and Himalayan Art. The score emerges from composer Andrea Clearfield’s long-term engagement with Himalayan musicians and Tibetan musical traditions. Venerable Lama Losang Samten, previous Personal
Gerald W. Lynch Theater
524 W 59th Street
Subway: A, B, C, D, or 1 to 59th Street Columbus Circle
Bus: M57, M31, and M11
Andrea Clearfield (Composer) is an award-winning composer of music for orchestra, opera, chorus, chamber ensemble, dance, and multimedia collaborations. Clearfield creates deep, emotive musical languages that build cultural and artistic bridges. She has been praised by the New York Times for her “graceful tracery and lively, rhythmically vital writing”, the Philadelphia Inquirer for her “compositional wizardry” and “mastery with large choral and instrumental forces”, the L.A. Times for her “fluid and glistening orchestration” and by Opera News for her “vivid and galvanizing” music of “timeless beauty”. Her works are performed widely in the U.S. and abroad. Among her 150 works are eleven large-scale cantatas including one commissioned and premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent works are inspired by Tibetan music fieldwork that she conducted in the Nepalese Himalaya. She was recently appointed the Steven R. Gerber Composer in Residence with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for their 2018-19 season. Dr. Clearfield was awarded a 2017 Independence Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, American Academy in Rome, Yaddo, Ucross, Wurlitzer Foundation, Copland House and the MacDowell Colony among others. Her music is published by Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard and Seeadot and recorded on the Bridge, Sony, MSR, Albany, Crystal and Innova labels. Passionate for building community around the arts, she is founder and host of the renowned Salon featuring contemporary, classical, jazz, electronic, dance, and world music since 1986.
Headshot by Sanny Leviste
Jean-Claude van Itallie
Jean-Claude van Itallie (Librettist), born in Brussels in 1936, fled the holocaust with his family to America in 1940. He graduated Harvard in 1958, and was a seminal force in the explosive 1960’s Off- Off-Broadway. He wrote the landmark anti-Vietnam War play America Hurrah (a trilogy: Interview, TV, Motel), and, as Playwright-of-the-Ensemble of Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theater, wrote The Serpent. He’s author of over thirty plays including War, Bag Lady, The Traveler, Light, Struck Dumb, the Doris Plays, Eat Cake, Fear Itself, and Ancient Boys. His one person shows – War, Sex, Dreams and Confessions and Conversation. His newest play — The Fat Lady Sings — opens at La MaMa in spring, 2019. A student of Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, van Itallie is librettist of the opera Tibetan Book of the Dead, music by Ricky Ian Gordon – based on van Itallie’s play Tibetan Book of the Dead or How Not to do It Again. Itallie’s translations of Chekhov’s major plays are often produced in US major theaters. He’s taught acting, writing, and meditation workshops at Princeton, NYU, Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Columbia, Essalen, Shantigar and Naropa, among other places. He wrote The Playwright’s Workbook and Tea with Demons, games of Transformation. On his farm in Western Massachusetts, he is founder/director of Shantigar Foundation for Theater, Meditation, and Healing.
Headshot by Barbara Beaussacq
Lois Walden (Librettist), American writer, singer, songwriter, librettist, record producer, performer, and teaching artist. Author of the novels One More Stop (Arcadia, 2010), and Afterworld (Arcadia, 2013), Lois Walden worked as a television writer in Hollywood with many major artists including Dionne Warwick, and Jane Fonda. As founder of the gospel group, The Sisters of Glory, she performed at Woodstock ’94 and at the Vatican for the Pope. She co-produced the group’s critically acclaimed album, Good News in Hard Times, for Warner Bros., as well as writing and co-producing her solo album, Traveller. She was the lyricist for American Dreams Lost and Found, based on the book by Studs Terkel. Her life and music have been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and Good Morning America. Her debut novel, One More Stop was a Lambda Literary Awards finalist and a Waterstones New Voices finalist. For the past 15 years Lois has travelled America for The Acting Company teaching teenagers in small towns and inner city schools how to tap into their emotions and understand their world through classic theatre and literature. She is currently co-writing the libretto for the Buddhist opera Mila, Great Sorcerer, and working on her third novel, Beyond Expectation. In addition Lois Walden is the writer for the non-fiction project High School Yearbook, a book, website and social media program empowering young people with cancer and connecting them and their families with others going through similar circumstances throughout the world.
Headshot by Brian Braff
Kevin Newbury (Director) is a theatre, opera and film director based in New York. Kevin has directed over sixty original productions including engagements with Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Ravinia Festival, the Park Avenue Armory, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Barcelona Liceu, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, The San Francisco Symphony, L’Opera de Montreal, The Prototype Festival, Bard Summerscape, Portland Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, and The Wexford Festival in Ireland, among many others. Recent world premiere highlights include Rodewald/DiNovelli’s The Good Swimmer (BAM Next Wave Festival), Spears/Pierce’s Fellow Travelers(Cincinnati Opera, Prototype Festival/NYC, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Bates/Campbell’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Santa Fe Opera, Indiana University; upcoming: Seattle Opera and San Francisco Opera), Almond’s Kansas City Choir Boy (starring Almond and Courtney Love: Prototype/NYC, ART/Boston, CTG/LA, Maimi), and Lopez/Cruz’s Bel Canto (Lyric Opera of Chicago, PBS’ Great Performances). Theatre work includes the GLAAD-winning play Candy & Dorothy. Kevin’s three short films, “Monsura is Waiting”, “Stag” and “Epiphany V” are all available online. www.kevinnewbury.com
Manoj Kamps (Conductor) held the coveted post of Junior Fellow in Orchestral Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2015-2017. During this time, he worked with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra and Manchester Camerata, studying with Sir Mark Elder, Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. Manoj has conducted, amongst other things, a new chamber opera Be With Me Now at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, a new production of The Fairy Queen for Dutch Touring Opera, Side by Side at Ulster Orchestra, Carte Blanche featuring music by Vivier with Cappella Amsterdam, Connect with Asko|Schönberg Ensemble and projects with Dutch National Opera Academy, Netherlands Chamber Choir, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir, Silbersee/VocaalLAB and Tokyo Telemann Chamber Orchestra. As an assistant conductor, Manoj has worked with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Konzerthausorchester Berlin (for Iván Fischer), BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (Juanjo Mena), Dutch National Opera (Romain Bischoff), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Andrew Manze), Prague Symphony Orchestra (Jac van Steen), Rundfunkchor Berlin (Simon Rattle) and the Netherlands Bach Society (Ed Spanjaard). He has also worked for Esa-Pekka Salonen and Sir Andrew Davis.