Love Wounds

Universal stories of love, loss and our sense of self.

Universal stories of love, loss and our sense of self will be explored by all performers in this production of multiple works that span the ancient to the millennial experience. Cerrone shows us the beauty and the gift in the wounds we carry and the music we can make of them.


I Will Learn To Love a Person
Naomi Songs
All Wounds Bleed
All Wounds Bleed
All Wounds Bleed
(Latitude 49)
(Latitude 49)
(Latitude 49)
(Latitude 49)
(Latitude 49)
(Latitude 49)



Artistic Team

Music Director
Lighting Designer
Sound Designer
Grayson Elliott Taylor
Stage Manager
Shelby Krarup
Technical Director

I Will Learn to Love a Person

Text by Tao Lin from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sung by Alex Salas
“In setting out to write my first large vocal piece since completing my opera Invisible Cities in 2011, I wanted to work with a different kind of text. I hoped to find something more immediate that spoke directly to my life: that of an overeducated 29-year-old Millennial— having grown up suburban, overpraised, with the Internet a constant presence. While those circumstances are at face value unremarkable, I felt that new classical music had not yet addressed the Millennial condition in a meaningful way. It seems at times that “contemporary music” is so intently backwards-looking that it misses what is truly contemporary. Around this time, I read a fantastic essay by the poet Jennifer Moore, “‘No discernible emotion and no discernible lack of emotion’: On Tao Lin”. She discusses Lin’s poetry and the “New Sincerity” movement of which he is considered part. New Sincerity poetry is—simply defined—autobiographical, direct, emotional, stripped down, and self-doubting. What I discovered in Tao Lin’s poetry fit perfectly into my compositional style. The thematic links between the poems in his book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allowed me to create a cycle of songs that are similarly connected. The simplicity of the texts also gave me the freedom to try many compositional strategies: sometimes supporting the subject matter with the music, at other times playing against them to highlight certain ambiguities. In writing these pieces, my hope is to create a work that reflects the strange and beautiful experience of growing up at the turn of the century—and that will continue to have meaning after that moment passes.” – Christopher Cerrone

That night with the green sky

it was snowing and you were kind of beautiful
we were in the city and every time i looked up
someone was leaning out a window, staring at me

i could tell you like me a lot or maybe even loved me
but you kept walking at this strange speed, you kept going in angles and it was confusing me

i think maybe you were thinking that you’d make me disappear
by walking at strange speeds and in a strange curvy way
but how would that cause me to vanish from the planet earth?

and that hurts
why did you want me gone?
that hurts
i don’t know
some things can’t be explained, i guess
the sky, for example, was green that night


Eleven-page poem, page three

my favorite emotions include ‘brief calmness
in good weather’ and ‘I am the only person alive’
without constant reassurance I feel terribly lonely and insane
i have moved beyond meaninglessness, far beyond meaninglessness
to something positive, life-affirming and potentially best-selling
i have channeled most of my anger into creating and sustaining an ‘angry face’
i have picked up a medium-size glass of coffee
and used it in the conventional way
because i am conventional in all situations, i’ll be right back


I will learn how to love a person and then i will teach you and then we will know

seen from a great enough distance i cannot be seen
i feel this as an extremely distinct sensation
of feeling like shit; the effect of small children
is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face
with an expression that says, ‘you will never be enough
for the people you love’; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one is trying hard enough
the effect of this is an extremely shitty sensation
of being the only person alive; i have been alone for a very long time
it will take an extreme person to make me feel less alone
the effect of being alone for a very long time
is that i have been thinking very hard and learning
about existence, mortality, loneliness, people, society, and love; i am afraid
that i am not learning fast enough; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one has ever tried hard enough; when i cried in your room
it was the effect of an extremely distinct sensation that ‘i am the only person
alive,’ ‘i have not learned enough,’ and ‘i can feel the universe expanding
and making things be further apart’
and it feels like a declarative sentence
whose message is that ‘we must try harder’


When i leave this place

the distances i have described in my poems
will expand to find me
but they will never find me

when my head touches your head
your face hits my face at the speed of light

holding it a little

i want to cross an enormous distance with you
to learn the wisdom of lonely animals with low IQs
i want to remember you as a river
with a flower on it

i’ll be right back


Are you okay?

i don’t think telling someone ‘don’t feel sad’ will console them
you need to do whatever you can to make them feel better
whenever your actions make them feel sad
and not stop until they feel better
read my text message and think about it
you just never seem happy with me anymore
even if i make you laugh
i think the damage i’ve done has become irreversible
i am surrounded by endless shit
i can’t move
where are you
i just had a dream where i came to new york but i didn’t tell you and i took the subway
to your apartment and waited for your roommate to come out so i could sneak in
then i went to your bed and crawled under your sheets from the end of your bed
and crawled to your face and kissed you then pet and hugged you
and we fell asleep
happy birthday
i drew you an ugly-fish comic
will you visit me today?
i want to hold you
and kiss your face
i miss walking with you at night

Sonata for Violin and Piano

“I have a distinct memory of a composition lesson I had in college (probably ca. 2005) where I told my composition teacher, “I swear will never write a piece for violin and piano.” What I (think I) meant was: as I was developing my voice as a composer, the last thing I wanted to do was to compose a piece for the most traditional of instrumental combinations, those that Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky all used. In order to avoid what I perceived as the anxiety of influence, I wrote pieces for the most unusual combinations I could come up with – all sorts of odd bands. Almost ten years later, my friend David Kaplan called me and suggested I write a piece for him and Rachel Lee Priday. Suddenly, I looked at this combination in the opposite way: in the hands of the daunting skill-sets of these particular performers, writing for violin and piano suddenly became a formidable challenge. Could I make my musical language work in this context? Could I write a work that adhered to a traditional fast-slow-fast structure? And could I use instrumental virtuosity as a way of exploring the timbral and architectural ideas I was exploring in other works? The answer to these questions is my very traditionally titled Sonata for Violin and Piano. One of the primary challenges of writing my earlier portfolio of “odd band” works was blending instrumental timbres together: I would often use extended techniques or non-traditional means of sound production to create aural symmetries between these instruments. In my Sonata I use the same techniques, but the intimacy and intensity of the two-instrument combination led my ambitions a step further: I wanted to create what I think of as a single meta-instrument, part violin and part piano.

Another concern of mine was that almost all of my music tends to be narrative in nature: whether vocal or wordless instrumental, the music often points outward to a specific place, person, or memory. I wanted my Sonata to be free of that specific allusiveness: to invite the listener to draw his or her own narrative out of the work, leaving only the architectonic title Sonata as suggestion. ” – Christopher Cerrone

The Naomi Songs

Text by Bill Knott, from All My Thoughts are the Same Thought
Sung by Bridget Skaggs
“I discovered the poetry of Bill Knott through my friend Eric Shanfield, who dumped a series of interesting documents that he’d found on the internet onto my hard drive. Among these was an unadorned file set in Times New Roman titled “ALL MY THOUGHTS ARE THE SAME, the collected poems of Bill Knott.” I pored over this curious volume which the author (then living) posted on the internet for free. What I discovered was a humorous and passionate writer of short poems. I was particularly taken by a series of four poems that were all addressed to a mysterious Naomi. Later, when I heard he had died in late 2014, it seemed appropriate to memorialize him with a short song cycle based on his poems.
Since each one of these short songs is concerned with love, I decided to put the entire piece in the same key (F) with each song in a different mode. The melancholy first song, ‘The Beach’, channels French Impressionism punctuated with pizzicati. The second, ‘I left’, luxuriates in long, sensuous melismas. The third, ‘When our hands are alone’, is a moment of safety and repose featuring electronic looping. And the final, ‘What Language Will be Safe?’, returns to the opening song, with an unexpected resolution.” – Christopher Cerrone

The beach holds and sifts us through her dreaming fingers
Summer fragrances green between your legs
At night, naked auras cool the waves
O Naomi
I kiss every body of you, every face


I left a
right where the nipple cheeps kiss in each nest
of the black bra
hung inside your bathroom door.


When our hands are alone, they open, like faces.
There is no shore to their opening.


What language will be safe
When we lie awake all night
Saying palm words, no fingertip words—
This wound searching us for a voice
Will become a fountain with rooms to let.

Double Happiness

“Double Happiness was written in the fall of 2012 with the arrangement for piano and percussion commissioned by Jani Parsons and Chris Sies in 2016. While the piece was composed in New York, much of the piece was inspired by a summer spent in Italy while I was a fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation’s castle in Umbria. I spent a lot of my time in Italy collecting field recordings of the Italian countryside, the sounds of church bells, train stations, and rainstorms. All of these sounds eventually found their way into Double Happiness as I constructed an emotional narrative around the sounds I experienced.

The piece consists of three larger movements connected by two (almost) identical interludes. The first movement explores the simple repetition of four simple notes, obsessive in their melancholy. The movement ends on an optimistic note as the four repeated notes slowly transform into a downward-moving chorale that leads inexorably to a celebratory D major chord. The mood of the first movement is cut off quickly. Summer in Umbria is hot and dry and always ends quite abruptly with a long and extreme rain storm that cuts the heat; unexpectedly, out of nowhere, it’s autumn. I used the sound of this rainstorm to create the same effect in my interludes in Double Happiness. The first interlude features the rainstorm and my transcription of four church bells heard ringing asynchronously in the distance. If the first ‘Self Portrait’ explores extremes of melancholy, the third movement is an extreme study in joy, ecstatic joy that comes from the feeling of creation itself—the feeling can be almost as uncontrollable as melancholy. The third movement features a field recording of a rhythmic train station bell. This sound is coupled with the percussionist playing a simple and very rhythmic melody over and over again, augmented with resonant and microtonal electronics, giving the whole movement an extremely bright, metallic sheen. Eventually, the piano joins the vibraphone in a very careful and detailed rhythmic hocket as the movement spins out more and more vibrantly. The third movement cuts off with a second interlude, this time more austere than the first. We hear the transcription of a simple and extraordinarily resonant church bell ringing against the chords of the piano and the rainstorm again. The final movement tries to find a place of repose between the two extremes. The movement is, in fact, a simple song where the two performers play a long, sustained melody against their own sustained chords. A brief moment of electronics features the composer himself playing the violin, and accordion. The movement ends gently, sustainedly, and I hope happily.” – Christopher Cerrone

World Premier

All Wounds Bleed

An Opera in One Act / Libretto by Tony Asaro

Scene 1

Hera, Queen of the gods, hysterically searches through Echo’s boudoir. She suspects Echo of having an affair with her husband, Zeus. Echo, heretofore unseen, interrupts Hera, just as Hera is about to discover an arrowhead from Cupid’s quiver. Distraught, Hera asks Echo to allay her woes with one of Echo’s magical poems. Hera leaves entranced. Echo reveals her plot to entrap Zeus with the arrowhead—a magic weapon that when used, will cause the wounded to fall in love with the next person they see. Echo rejects her plot, deciding to use the arrowhead on a mortal instead to forget Zeus.

Scene 2

Narcissus writes poetry by a stream. Echo has found the mortal to receive her love blow. She appears to him, and showing Narcissus the arrowhead, tells him that she knows of a foolproof way to love. He rejects the idea. Echo stabs herself, falling instantly in love with Narcissus. As he rushes to her aid, she stabs him. He tumbles into the water, and seeing his refection, loves himself.

Scene 3

In Hera’s throne room, Echo gives Hera the arrowhead. She tells Hera to use it on Zeus and explains how her folly has only brought her grief. Hera sympathizes with Echo. She decides to punish Echo leniently, sparing her life, but removing Echo’s ability to speak first—from henceforth, Echo is only able to repeat what has been spoken.


Narcissus sings to his refection, Echo sings to Narcissus, and Hera sings of love’s misery.

Thank You

Chicago Fringe Opera is immensely grateful for our donors who support our mission of presenting innovative vocal works with an emphasis in the new and contemporary styles, engaging with the Chicago community through intimate and immersive performance experiences, and fostering and empowering local artists.


Year to date as of: March 22, 2022

Jennifer Alkem

Isabella Andries

John Bierbusse

Dana Brown

John Cederquist

Darwin Corrin

Robert P Delonis

Kathy Dunn

Kent Dymak

Maria Fletcher

Paul Freehling

Sarah Geocaris

Myron Levine

Joan Mazzanelli

Ashley McKinstry

Patricia McMillen

Carla & William O’Shaughnessy

Robert Daniel Reid

Jeffrey Roth

Elizabeth Rudolph

Laura Smalley

Tracey Smalley

Julie Stauffer

Carol Stukey

Joshua Taylor

Mark & Joan Walker

Isabella Weber

Jonathan Wilson

Dean Yannias

Jonathan Zeng

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Fidelity Charitable 


Company & Board


Matthew Godfrey
Board Member
Sarah Geocaris
Board Member
Joshua Taylor
Board Member
Lara Yang

Company Members

Executive Director
Laura Smalley
Creative Director & Conductor
Catherine O'Shaughnessy
Producing Artistic Director
George Cederquist
Social Media Manager
Daina Fischer
PR & Audience Relations Director
Giovanna Jacques
Artistic Producer
Khary Laurent
Marketing, Brand & Web Director
Jenny Schuler
Vocal Arts Associate
Bridget Skaggs
Community Engagement Coordinator
Jonathan Zeng