Bienen Ensembles

Christopher Cerrone and Stephanie Fleischmann's In a Grove

Midwest Premiere

Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 7:30pm

Ryan Opera Theater

Joachim Schamberger, director
Alan Pierson and Ben Bolter, conductors
Contemporary Music Ensemble

Northwestern University Opera Theater and the Contemporary Music Ensemble present two compelling and thought-provoking works: Christopher Cerrone and Stephanie Fleischmann's In a Grove, together with François Sarhan's Hands.

Hands, a title referring to both the subject of the piece and the physicality of its performance, is a set of short musical-theatrical works based on true stories from within the last century of US history. Through the lens of immigrants, families, and children often overlooked by mainstream society, Hands explores how our hands represent our roles in the world around us. 

The Wall Street Journal praised the Pittsburgh Opera’s February premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s In a Grove as “alluring and dramatically hypnotic.” With a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, based on the short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, the opera is set in 1921 in a ghost forest in the Oregon mountains. Seven witnesses—some of them suspects—provide testimony about events that transpired in a mountain grove, where an aspiring botanist goes missing and her new husband, a schoolteacher, appears to have been murdered. But all is not as it seems, and each new revelation in this suspenseful tale draws the audience deeper into an examination of the subjective nature of truth and the human experience. 

Content warning: In a Grove contains material that may be distressing to viewers, including sexual assault, physical violence, firearms, gunshot sound effects, strobe lights, self-harm, fog, and upsetting topics.

View Program Book

Tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for students with valid ID.

Sold Out

Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater


Bienen School of Music
70 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

View address on Google Maps


Located in the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, this theater is a versatile space for intimate opera performances and recitals. Featuring double-height ceilings and expansive windows showcasing views of Lake Michigan, the room seats 163.