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Midi: Video and Audio Excerpts

Plot Synopsis

Midi (Medea) is a native singer in the bar of a hotel/brothel in a city in the French West Indies, c. 1930. She is also a sorceress, a descendant of the Sun himself, loved and feared on the island. She lives with a dubious American “businessman,” Jaz, who is unfaithful and physically abusive. She could destroy him with her magic, but, loving him, she is helpless. They have two children.

In a prelude, Midi dances with her familiar spirits, leading into Act I, set in the hotel bar, Midi sings about herself as a Sun-creature, the rain, and Jaz. Jaz appears in the street outside with his new lover, Claire, the Governor’s daughter, whom he has promised to marry. They argue. Midi sings a song about how, as a young adolescent, she embraced her divine nature and her attendant powers, which includes reading the truth when people lie. Claire sends Jaz in to break with Midi. Drunk, he lacks the courage, tells Midi familiar lies, and embraces her. Claire takes charge, causing an exchange that comes near violence, ultimately leaving Midi in misery.

In Act II, set in Midi’s ancestral house the next morning, she awakens in total devastation and confusion. She goes to the corner of the room where she has set up an altar to her gods, prays, and performs a ritual. Meanwhile Jaz enters with a suitcase to collect his belongings…as well as some of hers. He has brought Claire’s old nurse along to help him take the children, whom he plans to send away to another island. Her religious observances completed, Midi confronts Jaz. Overcome with her old feelings for him, she seduces him. Infuriated by his loss of power, he beats and rapes her. She reaches for a coutelasto kill or mutilate him, but he runs away. She leaves the room with the weapon to kill their children. She reemerges covered in blood. Claire arrives and taunts her. In response, she uses magic to set fire to Claire. Through these terrible acts she takes full possession of her divinity. Jaz reappears. The scene closes with a furious exchange between them, and Midi prays to her ancestor the Sun to set fire to her ancient home, his temple.

There is a transitional scene in front of curtain, in which Midi’s ancestral house burns down, and her worried friends look for her.

In the final scene of Act II and the opera the location changes to an open area by the shore, where a seaplane, moored to a dock, waits for Midi to fly away. Her friends and audience from the ‘Ti Métropole gather to say farewell. She sings a final song for them, The Song of Secrets, resists attempts to persuade her to stay, and boards the plane. Meanwhile, Jaz arrives, drunk, and accuses Midi of the murder of their children and Claire. He pulls out a revolver and attempts to shoot her, but he misses and is overpowered by the people, who leave him lying unconscious on the ground. She enters the plane and flies away into the sun.

The first act was performed at the National Opera Center of Opera America in New York City in October, 2016, in a workshop organized by American Opera Projects  Click here for a complete video.

Vocal scores available on request.

Excerpts from Act I Workshop:


“Little Tricks”. Marsha Thompson, soprano.


Click here to access the vocal score to Act II.


Midi Act II Excerpts—MIDI Files: MP3 followed by Ogg Vorbis for better sound. Use a browser other than Safari to stream Ogg Vorbis.

Excerpt No.DescriptionVocal Score Page Ref.Measure No.
1.Curtain up: Midi, in misery and confusion, finds her quimbois (vodou) chapel1-7sc. 1: 1-97
2.Midi remembers herself and her mission with remorse. She prays for death.11-17Letter N-263
3.Jaz enters, meets sons, turns them over to Nanny, who sings them an old French song.18-26sc. 2: 1-142
4.Midi addresses the corpses of her children.65-72sc. 3: D-144
5.Claire enters and taunts Midi, laughs at the dead boys. Midi destroys her.73-79145-250
6.Final exchange (stichomythy) between Midi and Jaz.95-108Q-518
7.Transition from Act II, sc. 3 to Act II, sc. 4109-123Transition: 1-91
8.Finale: Midi sings her last song and flies away into the sun.130-152sc. 4: C-392


Published: November 1, 2017

Protected: Midi, an Opera: Vocal Score, Act II

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Published: June 12, 2017

Video of Workshop of Act I presented by American Opera Projects on October 24, 2016 at the National Opera Center, New York

Click here to watch the workshop on Vimeo. (better quality!)

Please note that Act I has been revised since the workshop. Midi’s third aria has been moved to the Act II Finale, and a substantial cut has been made.

Click here for the libretto.



Published: December 6, 2016

Protected: Midi, an Opera: Vocal Score, Act I

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Published: July 7, 2016

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the following individuals, who have offered their support and labor to our project…

Kevin Newbury – Dramatic Advisor

Charles Jarden and the staff of American Opera Projects

Maestro J. David Jackson

Richard and Sally Price – Consultants on Antillean culture

Published: April 5, 2015

Midi, an Opera: Libretto and Synopsis

Bar Madinina, St. Pierre, Martinique, 1939
Bar Madinina, St. Pierre

Bar Madinina, St. Pierre

Midi edited libretto Two Act Version Corrected with final cuts 6:12:2017

Published: April 5, 2015

Three arias from Midi, Act I; Nicole Cabell, soprano, Susan Tang, Piano

Nicole Cabell

Nicole Cabell


Three arias from Midi, Act I; Nicole Cabell, soprano, Susan Tang, piano (sung in English)


1. Rain Song / La Chanson de la pluie

Ogg Vorbis (better sound, use Chrome or Firefox browsers):

MP3 (for streaming with Safari):


An accordionist, pianist, and a violinist follow her unobtrusively to the platform along the wall, followed by a clarinettist, trombonist, bass player, and drummer. By the time she and the guitar player reach the platform, the band is ready to go. Midi wears an elegant, tight-fitting gown, which would not shame any nightclub singer in Paris, but it is covered by a colorful floral smock, which, when wrapped around her, gives her the look of a village woman, although one of some distinction, that is, a hint of her own ceremonial robes. She also produces a head cloth, which completes the village look.

Je suis l’enfant du soleil. Je déteste la pluie.
Bien que la pluie m’énerve, et le ciel gris encore plus,
j’ai trouvé un moyen de survivre, de mettre le dessous
Je reste au lit, toute seule, jusqu’à ce que je sois prête
à me mettre à mes petites jouissances, et tout ce que me
vient à la tête.(Elle ôte la blouse et le foulard. Un striptease discret
accompagne la chanson.)M’étant levé si tard, je m’assieds au bord du lit.
Je m’étire les bras au ciel et au nord et sud.
Dès mon premier regard par la fenêtre,
la solitude m’est devenue le bien-être.La bonne sait du tip-tap qu’elle a congé
J’ajoute une grosse cuillière de café
à mon pot de chicorée, et je la bois
à la porte de mon jardin, le jardin des mes aïeux.Maintenant je suis prête à me promener
parmi mes fleurs et mes plantes à mon gré.
Ma chemise de nuit luxuriant en son coton
ramassé par les mains noires du cantonreçoit tâche après tâche de l’eau bénie
par le ciel nuageux et les brises gentilles,
qui se collent, qui suçent même mon corps
comme un essaim d’amants incorpores.Les caresses des gouttes m’étourdissent.
Les plis de ma chemise, trempés, s’alourdissent
et comme un jeune monsieur trop ardent.
Ils m’étreindent les reins et mes seinstrop fort! Je m’étouffe! De ce linceul ruisselant
je dois me libérer à l’instant.
À bas les bretelles! La chemise glisse de mon dos.
Mon corps est seul à seul avec le ciel et ses eaux.Je danse dans la pluie, je l’embrasse.
Elle me trempe des pieds au visage.
C’est comme ça que la fille du Soleil
se réconcilie avec les nuages à l’éveil.Quand mon ami retourne chez nous
Il me demande d’un ton pas très doux
si je lui suis restée fidèle en tout sens
Quand je dis oui, je sais bien que je mens.
I’m a child of the sun. I hate the rain.
Even though the rain gets on my nerves, and a grey sky even more,
I’ve found a way to survive, to turn things upside down.
I stay in bed by myself, until I am ready
to get started on my little pleasures, and anything else that
might come to mind. (Takes off the smock and headcloth. A mild strip tease accompanies the song.)
After getting up so late, I sit on the side of the bed.
I stretch out my arms to the sky and the north and south.
From my first look out the window
My loneliness has turned into comfort.The maid knows from the tapping of the rain that she has
the day off.
I add a big spoonful of coffee
to my chicory pot, and I drink it
by the door to my garden, the garden of my ancestors.Now I’m ready to stroll
around my flowers and plants as I like.
My nightgown, luxuriating in its cotton,
picked by black hands from the village,
takes on spot after spot of the sacred water
from the cloudy sky and gentle breezes:
they stick to my body, even suck on it,
like a swarm of incorporeal lovers.The caresses of the drops makes me sleepy.
The folds of my shift, all soaked, grow heavy,
and like an over-excited young gentleman,
they squeeze hard at my kidneys and my breaststoo hard! I’m suffocating. From this dripping winding sheet
I must set myself free right away!
The straps go down. The shift slips off my back.
My body is all alone with the Sky and his waters.I dance in the rain. I embrace it.
It soaks me from head to foot.
That is how the Daughter of the Sun
gets along with the clouds when she gets up.When my boyfriend comes back home
He asks me in a tone that’s not very nice
if I’ve been faithful to him in every way.
When I say yes, I know I’m lying.


2. Midi and her Grandmother (“Little Tricks”) / La Chanson de la grand’mère (“petits trucs’)


Ogg Vorbis (better sound, use Chrome or Firefox browsers):

MP3 (for streaming with Safari):


3. La Chanson des secrets


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MP3 (for streaming with Safari):


The audience, who have been variously listening and dancing to the recording, applaud as it concludes in the scratching sounds. The musicians return. One of them stops the gramophone. They beckon to Midi, who is finishing her drink, lost in thought. She slowly, heavily returns to her place with them, gradually enlivened by their introductory music. The audience fall silent, and she begins to sing.

(“petits trucs”)
Eh bien, mesdames messieurs,
vous me connaissez. Je suis
Midi, l’indigène et l’étrangère.
Je sais danser, chanter,
et de temps en temps j’aide mes amis
qui souffrent. Si vous avez du mal
au corps ou avec la justice,
ou, ce qui conte le plus, dans l’amour,
vous n’avez qu’à me chercher chez moi,
dans la vieille maison de mes ancêtres.
Maintenant, je vais vous raconter une histoire.
D’entre vous la plupart me connaissent
depuis des ans, quand je suis arrivée
avec mon bel ami, Mister Jaz.
D’autres savent que je suis revenue,
au moins ma famille dans moi, laquelle,
tout-puissante qu’elle était,
fut expulsée par les békés et les prêtres
aux petites îles, où je suis grandie
comme une petite sauvage.
Mes parents m’envoyaient deux fois par an
à visiter ma grand’mère,
qui m’enseignait des petits trucs,
dont le pouvoir me donnait
tant de plaisir enfantin!
Une nuit, quand j’avais quatorze ans,
elle me disait que je devais être assez mûre
pour prendre une grande décision,
laquelle, un fois faite,
je ne pourrais jamais changer.
La vieille m’expliquait
que la capabilité de tout savoir
pourrait être à ma portée,
si je la voulait, mais elle me coûterait cher.
Je aurais pu lire les pensées
de tous, même s’ils n’étaient pas
devant moi. Personne ne pourrait
jamais me mentir.
Je lui ai demandé de me l’expliquer,
mais elle m’a dit seulement
que je devais aller dormir.Le lendemain, tout m’était clair,
même si je ne trouvais pas les mots.
Entrer dans les pensées de tous,
quel cauchemar,
une insomnie que seuls les dieux
peuvent supporter!
Et alors, je suis là parmi vous
comme l’une de vous.
Être humain, n’est-ce pas vivre
avec les autres, les accepter
comme les mystères qu’ils sont?
Mais il n’est pas le temps d’aller coucher.
J’ai encore quelque chose de plus pour vous.3. “La Chanson des Secrets…”Dans un coin désert de la forêt
une source pure et fraîche nourrit un étang
placide. C’est là où les filles
emmennent leurs amants pour savoir
s’ils resteront fidèles ou non.
Si elles y voient un reflet parfait
du bien aimé, elles savent
qu’il est bon. Si le visage se casse
en mille filets qui fourmillent sur les eaux,
ils sont faux—plus ou moins—
comme l’humanité moyenne.
Vous savez, les images clairs,
comme ils sont rares?
Cette magie est l’ouvrage subtil
d’une petite déesse
—on ne sait plus son nom—
qui voulait renoncer à sa divinité
pour l’amour d’un mortel—
sans succèss, hélas.
L’immortel ne peut mourir.
Elle s’ouvrit les veines sous un vieux manguier.
Elle disparut de la terre, mais son sang
coule toujours du coeur terrestre
comme de l’eau claire et pure.
Elle vit toujours, étincelant
sur le ménisque come un feu follet,
cherchant acharnement son amant,
mort depuis des siècles.
Elle ne le trouvera jamais—seulement
la lumière au coeurs des vrais amoureux.
Pour vous et pour moi
les autres sont un grand mystère,
mais le mystère le plus grand de tous
c’est l’amour. L’amour
peut te changer la vie,
mais il peut te quitter comme ça.
Son pouvoir est grand comme la mer.
Personne ne peut le dompter,
ni toi ni moi.Je suis confuse. Le savoir
m’a échappé, mais je pense
que c’est l’amour même qui décide
—non l’amante ou le bien aimé—
si il reste avec toi jusqu’à la mort
ou si il fuit d’un jour à l’autre,
s’évanouissant comme le revenant
d’un poète oublié ou d’une courtisane illustre.
Le bien aimé peut s’évanouir, mourir
d’une maladie insignifiante
ou d’un pas mal placé.
Un être qui hier semblait solide, réel,
n’est plus, n’est plus. Il ne reste que
l’espoir amer du souvenir.
(“Litle Tricks”)
All right, ladies and gentlemen,
you all know me, I’m
Midi. I can sing and dance,
and every now and then I help my friends
in trouble. If you have a pain
somewhere in your body or in the law courts,
or, most important of all, in love,
all you have do is visit me at home,
in the ancient house of my ancestors.
Now I’m going to tell you a story.
Most of you have known me
for some years, since I arrived
with my handsome friend, Mister Jaz.
Some others know that I actually returned,
at least my family in me, who,
as powerful as they were,
were sent into exile in the little islands
by the old landowners and the priests.
I grew up there
like a little savage.
My parents sent me twice a year
to visit my grandmother
who taught me little tricks.
The power in them gave me
so much chidlish pleasure!
One night, when I was fourteen,
she told me that I should be grown up
enough to make a big decision,
which, once it was made,
I could never change.
The old woman explained to me
that the ability to know everything
could be within my reach
if I wanted it, but it would cost me dearly.
I could be able to read the thoughts
of everyone, even if they weren’t
in my presence. No one could
ever tell me lies.
I asked her to explain it to me,
but she only said to me
that I should go to sleep.In the morning, everything was clear
even if I couldn’t find the words for it.
Enter into the thoughts of everyone,
what a nightmare,
an insomnia only the gods
could stand!
So now, I’m standing here among you
as one of you.
Isn’t being human living
with other people and accepting them
as the mysteries that they are?
…but it isn’t bedtime yet.
I still have more in store for you.3. “The Song of Secrets”In a secluded corner of the jungle
a pure, cool spring feeds a quiet pool.
That is where girls
take their lovers to find out
if they will keep faithful or not.
If they see a perfect reflection
of their beloved, they know
that he is good.  If the face breaks
into a thousand strips that tremble on the water,
they are false—more or less—
like average people.
Do you know how rare those
clear images are?
This magic is the subtle craft
of a little goddess
—her name is long forgotten—
who wanted to give up her godhead
for the love of a mortal.
She failed, alas.
An immortal cannot die.
She opened her veins under an old mango tree.
She vanished from the earth, but her blood
still flows from the earth’s heart
as clear, pure water.
She is still alive,
sparkling on the tight, smooth surface like a willow-the-wisp,
stubbornly searching for her lover,
who died centuries ago.
She won’t find him ever—only
the light in the hearts of true lovers.
For you and for me
people are a great mystery.
but the greatest mystery of all
is love. Love
can change your life,
but it can leave you in an instant.
No one can tame it,
not you nor I.
I’m at a loss. Knowing
has run away from me, but I think
that it’s love himself
—not the lover or the beloved—
who decides if he’ll stay with you until death
or if he runs away overnight,
vanishing like the ghost
of a forgotten poet or a famous courtesan.
The man you love can vanish, die
of a minor illness
or a wrong step.
A person who seemed solid, real
yesterday is no more, no more. All that remainsis the bitter hope of memory.


Published: February 21, 2015