In a Circle Records proudly presents In a Grove, an opera with music by Christopher Cerrone and a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann. A full-length follow-up to Cerrone’s GRAMMY-nominated 2021 album, The Arching Path, In a Grove features singers soprano Lindsay Kesselman, countertenor Chuanyuan Liu, tenor Andrew Turner, and baritone John Taylor Ward, accompanied by the intrepid Metropolis Ensemble.
Sited within a ghost forest in the Pacific Northwest in 1922, the opera unfolds within a barren, haunted landscape devastated by wildfire. Into a terrain of broken dreams, marred by violence and obfuscated by smoke, comes a young woman who upends conventional notions of gender and narratives of victimhood, claiming agency for herself. Transpiring within a frontier territory driven by class struggle and fear of the other, this retelling of Akutagawa’s tale—famously adapted as the film Rashomon—manifests a world in which the environment is under siege, and wildly veering personal truths vie with absolute fact, shattering what one thinks they know.
As a studio recording, the work becomes a sonic drama. As with other recent studio projects (including 2019’s The Pieces that Fall to Earth and 2021’s The Arching Path, both nominated for GRAMMY awards), it was co-produced by Cerrone, Mike Tierney, and Andrew Cyr. They created a new kind of opera album, utilizing overdubbing, multi-tracking, close-micing, compression, and other studio techniques to create a brand-new sonic world, entirely different from the one created on stage.
The shifting viewpoints of Akutagawa’s classic short story lend themselves eloquently to music’s ability to conjure, via repetition and variation, the ways human perception is fallible, imprecise, and subject to interference. Characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, composer Christopher Cerrone’s music balances lushness and austerity, immersive textures, and telling details. This dynamic new adaptation melds the dramatic impact and interiority of Cerrone’s unique voice with librettist Stephanie Fleischmann’s charged, poetic text to produce a powerful interrogation into how we see, hear, remember, and believe.
released July 7, 2023
Music by Christopher Cerrone
Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann
After the story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Produced by Mike Tierney, Christopher Cerrone, and Andrew Cyr.
Cast (in order of appearance)
John Taylor Ward—The Woodcutter/The Outlaw (Luther Harlow)
Chuanyuan Liu—The Priest/The Medium
Andrew Turner—The Policeman/The Settler (Ambrose Raines)
Lindsay Kesselman—The Mother/The Missing Woman (Leona Raines)
Michael Avitabile, flutes
Anton Rist, clarinets
Laura Weiner, horn
Ian Rosenbaum, percussion
Nuiko Wadden, harp
David Kaplan, piano
Clara Kim, violin
Estelle Choi, ‘cello
Christopher Cerrone, electronics
Andrew Cyr, artistic director
Electronics created in collaboration with Dave Sanchez
Designed by Jessica Fleischmann
Cover photograph by Norman McBeath, from Perdendosi
In a Grove was recorded throughout 2022 and 2023 by Mike Tierney at Shiny Things Studios in Brooklyn, NY at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Edited and mixed by Mike Tierney. Mastered by Alan Silverman.
© 2021 Schott Music Corporation (ASCAP). Commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera, with production support from Pittsburgh Opera, with additional creative and development support provided by Metropolis Ensemble, Raulee Marcus, and Steven Block.
This recording was made possible with support from Nancy and Barry Sanders, Raulee Marcus, Steven Block, and Metropolis Ensemble
“Vividly produced… carefully considered for the studio… commanding attention until the end.” Joshua Barone, The New York Times
“An engrossing and complete experience... evokes the fragility of memory from the outset... articulated with vivid nuance.” Thomas May, Grammophone