‘Kepler’ marks return of composer

Kepler sleeps as his mother and a younger Kepler look on. (Aasimah Navlakhi/postandcourier.com)

American composer Philip Glass turned 75 in January. To honor his long career and cavalcade of compositions, Spoleto Festival USA is mounting the first staged production of his opera “Kepler” in the U.S.

Directed by Sam Helfrich and conducted by John Kennedy, the work explores the life and mind of famed 17th-century mathemetician and astronomer Johannes Kepler.

On the occasion of Glass’ return to the festival (his affiliation is decades-old), The Post and Courier has compiled some interesting tidbits about the composer.

16: Number of operas by Philip Glass

4: Number of those operas about scientists (3 are about physicists, including “Kepler”)

Christopher Columbus: The protagonist in Glass’s 1992 opera “The Voyage,” which was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the explorer’s landing in America.

Poet Allen Ginsberg: Librettist for Glass’ “Hydrogen Jukebox,” commissioned by Spoleto Festival USA and the American Music Theater Festival in 1990.

1931: The year in which the silent film “Dracula” was filmed, which in 1999 got a new musical score by Glass.

Stage director Robert Wilson: On whose sketches Glass based his opera “Einstein on the Beach.”

Mabou Mines: The name of the experimental theater group which Philip Glass worked with in the 1960s and 70s.

‘The Hours’: The 2002 film starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman for which Glass composed the music and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

3: Number of times nominated for an Academy Award.

Occupy Wall Street: The political movement Glass joined briefly on Dec. 1 outside Lincoln Center after a performance of his opera “Satyagraha.”

Burkhard Dallwitz: The composer with whom Glass shared a Golden Globe win for his work on the film “The Truman Show.”

Chuck Close: The friend and artist who created four portraits of Glass from 1969-1982, one of which was used for the 2007 Spoleto poster.

15: Glass’ age when he first attended the University of Chicago to study mathematics and philosophy.

‘Hamlet’: The Shakespeare play that provided the line said to have inspired the title of Glass’ chamber opera “Monsters of Grace.”

Franz Kafka: Author who write “In the Penal Colony,” upon which Glass’ 2000 chamber opera is based.

‘Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread’: David Ives’ 1990 play is modeled after Glass’ abstract compositions, primarily “Einstein on the Beach.”

Edgar Allan Poe: Author who’s “A Descent into the Maelstrom” became a 2002 Glass theater piece.