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October 14, 2019

Creative Take on Modern Opera Inspires Collaboration Between CIM, Cleveland Institute of Art and Hale Farm & Village


Juniper Tree

Three Northeast Ohio cultural institutions are collaborating on a thrilling, creative staging of The Juniper Tree, a moody modern opera based on a dark tale by the Brothers Grimm.

Featuring opera theater students at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the production – to be performed at CIM’s Mixon Hall – will intertwine stage action with a feature-length film made by students at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The film was shot in October at an historic home at Hale Farm & Village in Bath, which is part of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

The Juniper Tree will be performed October 31 and November 2 and 3 at 7:30pm.

The opera was composed in 1984 by Philip Glass and Robert Moran. It follows the story of a boy who is murdered by his jealous stepmother and then fed in a stew to his unsuspecting father. The boy’s half-sister buries the bones under a tree, after which the boy is transformed and exacts revenge on his stepmother.

Students from CIM and CIA created the movie at Goldsmith House, which was built in 1831 in Willoughby and stands now as an educational site at Hale Farm. The home provided perfect texture for the film, which will be intricately integrated into the live action of the performance. The idea of combining live staging with a projected film featuring the same cast that appears on stage was conceived by Dean Southern, director of CIM Opera Theater.

“The choice of The Juniper Tree itself is a big change for us, and through it we wanted to try a new approach to storytelling,” said Southern, who is now in his first full season as director of CIM Opera Theater. “Sometimes the singers on stage carry the action, at other time the focus shifts to the screen, and often stage and screen work in tandem. We want the whole thing to feel fluid.”

Southern contacted Jacob Koestler, lecturer in CIA’s Photo + Video Department, who introduced the project to students in his Digital Cinema II course.

“I always wanted to do something this adventurous. I’m so happy and grateful to be working with Jacob and his wonderfully imaginative students at CIA,” Southern said. “The creativity between the students at both schools has been fun and inspirational to watch and experience. Filming at beautiful Hale Farm & Village was a thrill for everyone involved, and it was the final piece we needed to make this project come together.”

Koestler says that it was the opportunity for his students to become involved in a project outside the classroom and Southern’s vision that motivated them to work together with CIM on The Juniper Tree.

“It’s always exciting for the students to get out of the classroom and get real-world experience. Traditionally in this course, our students have worked on a single short film for the entire 16 weeks, and much of that time has been spent on casting and developing props. In this case, CIM is creating the props, costumes, makeup and hair, and of course bringing trained actors and musicians,” Koestler said. “Dean has a vision for the opera, but he also has been open to what our students have been able to offer as the production has developed. It has just been a very high-level professional experience.”

Jason Klein, director of Hale Farm, says this production could lay the groundwork for additional collaborations among the institutions.

“Hale Farm & Village is happy to partner with two renowned Northeast Ohio cultural institutions on this film and opera. Our historic 19th century village is sure to set the scene for a unique adaptation of The Juniper Tree,” Klein said. “We’re always open to these types of activities and would be happy to collaborate again in the future.”

To purchase tickets to this inventive production of The Juniper Tree, go online or contact the CIM Box Office at 216.795.3211 between 10am and 3pm Monday through Friday.

Parking: There are a wide variety of parking options, including metered and unmetered street parking on Hazel Drive, Juniper Road and Magnolia Drive, and paid lots at neighboring institutions. CIM’s parking lot will be inaccessible until summer 2020 due to construction. Visit cim.edu/parking for more information.

CIM Opera Theater productions are funded in part by a grant from the John P. Murphy Foundation.

Cleveland Institute of Music

The Cleveland Institute of Music empowers the world’s most talented classical music students to fulfill their dreams and potential. Its graduates command the most celebrated and revered stages in the world as soloists, chamber musicians and ensemble members; compose meaningful, award-winning new repertoire; and are highly sought-after teaching artists, administrators and thought leaders. A testament to the excellence of a CIM education, more than half of the members of The Cleveland Orchestra are connected to CIM as members of the faculty, alumni or both. All students benefit from access to world-renowned visiting artists and conductors, intensive study with CIM’s stellar faculty and the rich curriculum offered by CIM’s partner Case Western Reserve University. CIM is an integral part of Cleveland’s arts community, presenting nearly 600 free performances and master classes on campus each year, and hundreds more at locations throughout the region, including Severance Hall. Explore cim.edu to learn more.

Cleveland Institute of Art

The Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design committed to nurturing the intellectual, artistic and professional development of students in 15 undergraduate majors. CIA extends its programs to the public through exhibitions, lectures, continuing education and the CIA Cinematheque, a nationally acclaimed art and independent film program. For more information visit cia.edu.

Western Reserve Historical Society

Founded in 1867, Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) is Northeast Ohio’s premier storyteller based on its vast collection of the tangible history of Northeast Ohio. It is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit regional historical societies in the nation. It presents the lives and activities of 19th century settlers through historic Hale Farm & Village in Bath, Ohio. WRHS offers a wealth of resources to research your family heritage at the Cleveland History Center in University Circle, Cleveland. Visit wrhs.org for more information.

Hale Farm & Village

Hale Farm & Village, a living history museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, is located on 90 acres in Bath, Ohio with 32 historic structures, farm animals, heritage gardens, farming and early American craft and trade demonstrations. The location is open for a summer season June – August, Wednesday – Sunday; weekends only September and October; and signature events or educational programming during other times. Visit halefarm.org or call (330) 666-3711 for seasonal hours, program listings, rental information and to become a member. 2018 marked Hale Farm & Village’s 60th anniversary as a museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society.