Ruehr's Crafting the Bonds

a new opera

June 11, 2017 - 7:00pm

Elena Ruehr presents a reading of her new opera Crafting the Bonds.  Libretto by Gretchen Henderson. Supported by a Discovery Grant from Opera America.

Elena Ruehr is known for her bold lyricism, which is informed by her ability to combine musical structures from worlds as diverse as the Second Viennese School and minimalism. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow (2014) and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (2008). Ruehr was composer-in-residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, who recorded her opera Toussaint Before the Spirits (BMOP Sound) and her complete orchestral works (BMOP Sound, O’Keeffe Images). In addition to her work with BMOP, her recordings include Averno (Avie Records, Trinity Choir, 2012), How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr (Cypress String Quartet, 2010), Jane Wang considers the dragonfly (Albany, various artists, 2009) and Lift (Avie Records, Irina Muresanu, Jennifer Kloetzel, Sarah Bob and Ethan Filner). Her six string quartets have been championed by the Cypress, Biava, Borromeo, Lark and Shanghai string quartets. She has taught at MIT since 1991. For more information, visit

Crafting the Bonds is a full-length opera spanning two centuries based on the rediscovery of The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, the first known novel by an African-American woman. The opera fuses past with present, including factual and archetypal characters, to ask larger questions about the lives and afterlives of stories.


About Gretchen HendersonGretchen Henderson writes across genres and the arts. Her award-winning works include two novels, two nonfiction books, poetry and opera chapbooks, and publications in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Southern Review, PloughsharesThe &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing. Her writings have been reviewed widely, including The New Yorker (“illuminating … artful… exciting”), TLS (“fascinating … refreshing … necessary”), Boston Music Intelligencer (“ethereal”… “profound”), and the Guardian (“fascinating … absorbing … generous”). A classically-trained vocalist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Gretchen was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT (2011-2013). Her first opera narrative and libretto, Cassandra in the Temples, was written for composer Elena Ruehr and premiered in performance at MIT in 2014, and also was published as a special feature in Western Humanities Review. Gretchen received the 2015-2016 Hodson Trust-JCB Fellowship from Brown University and Washington College to research and write the narrative and libretto for Crafting the Bonds. She lives in Washington, D.C. and teaches at Georgetown University.




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