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.


act i

Monks and Villagers climb the holy mountain to plead with their teacher, Mila, to tell them the story of his amazing life. On the way up the mountain Deities join the Villagers and Monks. Together, they re-enact Mila’s life. Mila is born into a rich merchant’s family. When Mila is seven, his father dies, leaving Mila and his mother in care of Mila’s cruel aunt and uncle who enslave them. When Mila turns fifteen, Mother begs Uncle and Aunt to give Mila his inheritance. Uncle and Aunt throw Mila and Mother out of the house. Mother, craving revenge, cajoles Mila into entering Sorcery Training Camp to learn Black Arts. At Sorcery Training Camp, Sorcerer trains Mila in hate and long distance killing. Using his Sorcerer’s tools Mila destroys Uncle’s house, killing thirty-five wedding guests Mother wants more revenge, so Mila destroys the Village’s entire barley crop. Mila barely escapes the Villagers’ fury.

act ii

Back at Sorcery Camp, because of the violence he has committed, Mila suffers from post traumatic stress. Sorcerer tells Mila of a great teacher, Marpa, who might help him redeem his soul. As Mila sets out to find Marpa, Marpa and his wife Damema dream that a wonderful student is coming. Mila finds a farmer plowing a field. He ask the farmer where Marpa lives. The farmer, who is Marpa, but does not reveal his identity, tells Mila to finish plowing the field, and then come to the farm house. When Mila enters the farm house, he discovers who Marpa is, and asks for teachings. Marpa tells Mila that in payment for teachings Mila must build him a round house made of stones. Before Mila can finish the round house, Marpa demands a triangular house, then he changes his mind again and again, making Mila’s work harder and harder, building and unbuilding houses. Damema, taking pity on Mila, gives him a big turquoise stone to pay for Marpa’s teachings. But Marpa recognizes Damema’s turquoise and refuses to teach Mila. Mila, desperate, is about to kill himself. Marpa stops him, calls him his heart son, and agrees to teach Mila meditation. Mila dreams he visits his old home, finds it in ruins and in it his mother’s bones. He awakens, and leaves Marpa and Damema. He rushes home only to find his dream was true. Mila climbs a mountain, vowing to meditate until he reaches enlightenment. He is visited by a seductive female Nightmare dressed in red. Mila resists her. Three robbers visit Mila but find nothing to steal. Demons visit Mila. They jeer at him in the voices of Mother, Uncle, and Aunt. Mila can’t chase his Demons away, so he offers them tea, so that he can continue to meditate as they live there too. Ultimately Mila’s Demons turn out to be Mila’s family played by the Deities at the opening of the opera. Marpa and Damema appear on a cloud and bless Mila. Villagers, Monks, Deities ask Mila for his blessing.

Mila blesses everyone.