Lycidas Workshop Overview

“Lycidas” was written by John Milton in 1637 to honor the death of a Cambridge fellow and poet. The young man drowned in a shipwreck on the Irish seas. It is considered by many to be the greatest lyrical poem of the English language. It is also not what it appears to be.

Within this dense and coded text, Milton sets out to question his own ability as a poet, the potential empty life of an artist, and the pursuit of fame. Robert Balaguer’s opera setting sifts out this meaning (with a contemporary audience in mind) while still honoring Milton’s florid language.

Balaguer’s adaptation breaks up the singular monody into a series of six scenes. The story is told from the mind of a swain who conjures four other voices to illustrate Milton’s other-worldly characters. The work ultimately resolves into a powerful commentary on the meaning of life, death, and art itself.

Scored for five vocalists, chamber orchestra 

Composed and Adapted by Robert Balaguer
Adapted from John Milton’s Pastoral Elegy

Co-Librettist and Dramaturg, Emmett Murphy

Samuel McCoy
Brian Mextorf The Swain
Kristin Gornstein Calliope
Lucy Fitz Gibbon Arethuse
Chad Kranak Mincius
Joe Chappel Alpheus
Accompanied by
Robert Balaguer
Recorded at
Scorca Hall at the National Opera Center in
New York City on April 6, 2018
Copyright 2020 © Robert Balaguer