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Bienen School presents Berlioz’s ‘Béatrice et Bénédict’

Northwestern University Opera Theater production runs May 23 to 26
Northwestern University Opera Theater's “Béatrice et Bénédict” runs May 23 to 26 at Cahn Auditorium

Premiered in 1862 at the opening of the Theater Baden Baden, Hector Berlioz’s comic opera “Béatrice et Bénédict” is based on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music will present Berlioz’s “Béatrice et Bénédict” from May 23 to May 26 in Cahn Auditorum, 600 Emerson Street, on the Evanston campus.

The Northwestern University Opera Theater production is directed by Joachim Schamberger and features the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra conducted by Patrick Furrer.

Upon returning home from battle with his friend Bénédict and commander Don Pedro, officer Claudio proposes to the governor’s daughter Hero. Meanwhile, Bénédict and the governor’s niece Béatrice trade merry insults, and Bénédict declares himself a bachelor for life. Don Pedro, up for a challenge, resolves to unite Béatrice and Bénédict in marriage with the help of Claudio, Hero, her father and their housekeeper. Will their matchmaking succeed?

This production incorporates dialogue and scenes from Shakespeare’s play, creating a fluid dramatic progression in service to the genius of both the Bard and Berlioz.

The music for “Béatrice et Bénédict” will be sung in French with supertitles; dialogue will be performed in Shakespearean English.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for full-time students with valid ID. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 847-467-4000 or in person at the Bienen School ticket office located at the southeast entrance of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive. Ticket office hours are Mondays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 3 p.m.

Artist Bios:

The Bienen School of Music’s Director of Opera Joachim Schamberger has gained international recognition as a stage director and video designer. His productions have been staged in the United States, Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Norway, Israel, Japan and China. He is on the faculty at numerous young artist festivals and guest lectures at conservatories around the world. Prior to his arrival at the Bienen School, he served as visiting professor of opera at DePauw University. A native of Germany, Schamberger is a graduate of the Musikhochschule in Würzburg, the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannheim and the Merola Opera Program of the San Francisco Opera. He also studied digital film production and 3-D animation at the New York Film Academy. Schamberger’s expertise includes vocal and dramatic interpretation, as well as style and language coaching.

Conductor Patrick Furrer started his professional career in the 1997-1998 season at the Basel Opera (Theater Basel, Switzerland), where he was engaged as a répétiteur and conductor. There he worked on productions including “Elektra,” “Turandot,” “Otello,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” “Satyricon” (Bruno Maderna), “die Soldaten” (Bernd Alois Zimmermann), “Der Cornet” (Frank Martin) and “Jenufa” (Janáček).  He later served as Kapellmeister (opera conductor) to the Innsbruck Opera (Austria), where he conducted the premieres of “Hansel and Gretel,” “Jonny spielt auf” (Krenek), “Un ballo in maschera” (Verdi), “Romeo and Juliet” (Prokofiev), “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and numerous other productions. Furrer has worked on more than 30 different new opera productions, which he conducted in roughly 150 performances. He also conducted the opening ceremony of the Swiss National Exposition in 2002.

The Bienen School of Music is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.