About Midi

About Lewis Spratlan, Composer

Composer, oboist, conductor and teacher Lew Spratlan has found inspiration for his musical compositions in Greek myth (Apollo and Daphne Variations, 1987); Mayan prophecy and prayer (In Memoriam, 1993); Freud’s Wolfman case (Wolves, 1988); crows gathering on a winter’s day (When Crows Gather, 1986); the 17th-century play La Vida Es Sueño, by Pedro Calderón de la Barca (Life Is a Dream, 1978); and NASA’s Mars rover (Soujourner, 1999)—not to mention his mother-in-law’s love of ragtime, the Charleston and old-time gospel hymns (When Crows Gather). Recent important work include Vespers Cantata: Hesperus is Phosphorus (2012).

Over his career as a composer, which he began at the age of eight, Professor Spratlan has explored every musical genre; from medieval chant to jazz, his influences cross cultures, forms and styles. Equally eclectic are the instruments through which he gives his compositions voice—orchestras, choruses, quartets—even the Terpsiptomaton, a string/percussion instrument that he invented using wrought-iron coils and rods, piano strings and ball bearings.

The themes that Professor Spratlan has brought to our ears have often been primordial ones—fathers and sons, fate and free will, dreams and reality—perhaps most magnificently in his opera Life is a Dream. He received the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2000 for a concert version of the second act of this piece, which he had completed 22 years before. Professor Spratlan has also been honored with Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts and MacDowell fellowships, among many other awards.

About the Opera

The Medea Krater, Lucanian Red Figure, ca. 400 BC. Cleveland Museum of Art

The Medea Krater, Lucanian Red Figure, ca. 400 BC. Cleveland Museum of Art

 

About Michael Miller, Librettist

Michael Miller, Editor and Publisher of New York Arts and The Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts, was trained as a classicist and art historian at Harvard and Oxford, worked in the art world for many years as a curator and dealer, and contributed reviews and articles to Bostonia, Master Drawings, Drawing, Threshold, and North American Opera Journal, as well as numerous articles for scholarly and popular periodicals. He has taught courses in the Classics, the English language, and art history at Oberlin, Rutgers, New York University, the New School, and Williams. Currently, when he is not at work on The Berkshire Review and New York Arts, he writes fiction, pursues photography, and publishes scholarly work. In 2011 he contributed an introductory essay to Leonard Freed: The Italians / exh. cat. Io Amo L’Italia, exhibition shown in Rome, Milan, Turin, and New York, and wrote the revised the section on American opera houses in The Grove Dictionary of American Music.

His libretto for Midi, has given him an opportunity to revisit the work of one of the ancient Greek dramatists he most admires, Euripides, to explore mythology, and the discover a new culture, that of the French Lesser Antilles, with its rich traditions in religion and magic, myth-making, and music.

Bonvini!