Royal Opera to premiere new work by George Benjamin

The British composer, whose Written on Skin is one of the most acclaimed operas of our times, is collaborating with Martin Crimp again for a work that will debut in London in May 2018

The Royal Opera House has announced that it will stage the world premiere of a new opera by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp. Benjamin’s third opera will be called Lessons in Love and Violence, and continues his very successful collaboration with the British playwright.

Six partners from five different counties have come together to commission the work, which will premiere in London in May 2018 before performances in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lyon, Chicago, Barcelona and Madrid.

The story is inspired by Elizabethan drama and tells of a king forced to choose between love and political power. British director Katie Mitchell, who also directed the world and UK premieres of Benjamin’s second opera, Written on Skin, will direct, while Vicki Mortimer will design the production and the cast will include Barbara Hannigan (who created the central role of Agnès in Written on Skin), Peter Hoare and Gyula Orendt. Benjamin will conduct all London performances.

Georgia Jarman and Iestyn Davies in the Royal Opera House’s current production of Written on Skin.
Georgia Jarman and Iestyn Davies in the Royal Opera House’s current production of Written on Skin. Photograph: Stephen Cummiskey

Benjamin’s second opera – and his first full-length one – has been hailed as one of the defining works of the 21st century. Since its premiere in 2012, Written on Skin has been performed more than 80 times around the world, with productions in Argentina, Russia, Italy and Spain in the last six months alone. It has just finished a revival run at Covent Garden, London. “Deepening familiarity with Benjamin’s score increases one’s awareness of its beauty, its violence and the forensic yet immediate way in which it probes psychological extremes,” wrote the Guardian’s Tim Ashley. The Telegraph hailed it as “a modern classic”; “truly a 21st-century masterpiece,” agreed the Times.

Kasper Holten, the Royal Opera’s director of opera, said: “I am truly grateful that George, together with Martin Crimp, is writing his next major opera for us at Covent Garden … I think they have found an extraordinary subject and given it a treatment that feels deeply original and should make for an evening of exciting music theatre. I can’t wait to witness the result of that journey.”


Imogen Tilden

The GuardianTramp

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