famous brand music  Clark Suprynowicz

Caliban Dreams video clips
from the 2011 Berkeley / West Edge Opera Production


The opera Caliban Dreams, with librettist Amanda Moody, was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and originally commissioned by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. It premiered as a joint production of Berkeley West Edge Opera and First Look Sonoma on July 30, August 5 & 7, 20ll in El Cerrito and August 12 & 14 at Sonoma State University.

Caliban Dreams was part of the Z Space / Magic Theater New Works Initiative, and received its first complete reading in May of 2003 at the Magic Theater in San Francisco.

Caliban Press Sheet


Caliban Dreams is a fantasy based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.       

Librettist Amanda Moody writes:

The characters of Caliban and Ariel are among William Shakespeare’s most beloved creations. Their complex relations with their sorcerer master, Prospero, and Caliban’s miscarried plot to overthrow him, are at the heart of The Tempest.  Yet, in Shakespeare’s play, Ariel and Caliban haven’t a single scene where they converse directly. In Caliban Dreams we bring them together. From Caliban’s desire for freedom is born a fantasy of murderous vengeance on Prospero. Ariel also wants to be free of Prospero’s powers, yet she perceives that liberty achieved through murder is no mitzvah. Breaking Prospero’s thrall requires subtlety, and she worries, rightly, that Caliban may not be up to the task.  Disguised variously as Prospero, Sycorax and Miranda, Ariel intercepts Caliban’s picarasque travels, hoping to mollify his explosive temper. In all, neither Ariel’s nor Caliban’s best laid plans can withstand the forces of Chaos embodied in a meddlesome girls choir of sprites and a darker trio of dancer/singers, The Furies, who have an agenda of their own.


It is a terrible thing to write a piece that looks at bloody revenge, then to find it played out in your own backyard. 9/11 took place shortly after the first workshop of Caliban Dreams when the libretto was then half-finished. The parallels were hard to ignore.

There seems no doubt now that the apprehension of America as an imperial force was in the minds of those who carried out their vendetta in New York and Washington on 9/11. In this connection, the parallel to Shakespeare's story, and thereby to our own, couldn't be more pertinent - or more tragic. Prospero's power over Ariel and Caliban and his occupation of their land is clearly, in Prospero's mind, a case of beneficent patronage: if Prospero weren't to impose order there would be chaos and disaster - or so he believes. A familiar argument, it is not persuasive to either Caliban or Ariel. They want their freedom and their island back.

In our story, a tipping point is reached when Caliban succeeds in donning his Master's cloak and assuming (albeit, ineptly) his powers. The transformation is convincing enough that the powers that be – leading a bloody coupe - demand to know if he is Prospero. Caliban has done all he can to take the place of his Master. There is no good answer, and certainly no safe one, when he is asked to consider if he is truly, now, the object of both his hatred and his longing.


Composer C. Suprynowicz writes:

The opera employs elements of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music, as befits an island floating in a magic, equatorial region. The musical language is not blatantly folkloric, but those references are there. I am employing percussion instruments such as the berimbau, the quica, the mbira, used for color as well as for the motoric qualities they are known for (in the jazz world we say "the groove.") Yet there are also large arcs of harmonic movement, there is counterpoint, episodic structure, theme and development, all consistent with a world invaded by a European Duke (and very helpful for anyone knitting together a large piece like this). There is considerable underscoring, which is to say that the story is propelled at times by spoken text as well as by song. Composed for tenor John Duykers and soprano Amanda Moody, chamber orchestra and chorus, the music of Caliban Dreams joins the syncopation and kinetic qualities of indigenous music with the harmonic and structural daring of contemporary classical music.


I have been writing with a fourteen-piece chamber orchestra in mind. To make for less complexity and expense, we've been workshopping material with a 4-piece ensemble consisting of two percussionists and two (MIDI) keyboard players.


Principals: tenor, soprano (Caliban / Ariel)

Trio: soprano, mezzo, and baritone (The Furies)

A treble choir: 12 - 18 singers (the Chorus)

John Duykers (Caliban, on our recordings and video), is well known for his ten-year history as a featured performer in Phillip Glass' work, and from his role as Chairman Mao in John Adams’ groundbreaking Nixon In China. Caliban Dreams was developed around Mr. Duykers’ considerable skills.


Caliban Dreams has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, from the Z Space/Magic Theatre New Works Initiative (major funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the Columbia Foundation), and from the Copying Assistance Program of the American Music Center. Other generous contributions have been made through a Community Partnership Grant from the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum, Bay Area Chapter, and by individual donors who believe in the transforming power of the performing arts.


For more info on writer Amanda Moody, visit www.serialmurderess.com

For information about tenor John Duykers, click HERE

To contact composer Clark Suprynowicz: clark@famousbrandmusic.com

Photos of reading at The Magic Theatre, May 2003 click here

Review of Caliban Dreams
21st Century Music
September 2001 Edition