This month, George Benjamin will conduct the world premiere of his highly anticipated new opera Lessons in Love and Violence at The Royal Opera House. The opera is Benjamin’s latest collaboration with playwright Martin Crimp, is directed by Katie Mitchell and designed by Vicki Mortimer; bringing together the team behind Written on Skin. Lessons in Love and Violence features an excellent cast including Barbara Hannigan as Isabel, Stéphane Degout as King, and Gyula Orendt as Gaveston/Stranger.
George was recently interviewed for The Green Roomabout his composition, and conducting this new score, saying, “Once a score is complete – and if I’m due to conduct it myself – I have to try to reduce my feelings associated with the music and memories of how it was written. Ideally one should try to view the notes as if they were the work of someone else; the main task in hand, after all, is to direct with clarity and enable the performers to play and sing with confidence and precision… I met and heard all eight singers before a note of the music was written – and their specific vocal qualities and exceptional talents were very much in my mind while I composed. While working on Written on Skin I had the sound of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in my mind; this time I have written for the wonderful orchestra of the Royal Opera House, who I’ve got to know well over the last five years.”
Video: watch a first glimpse of the opera, and hear George Benjamin, Martin Crimp, and cast-members Barbara Hannigan and Stéphane Degout discuss the work at a recent ROH Insights event below:
Lessons in Love and Violence opens at the Royal Opera House on Thursday 10 May, with further performances on 12, 15, 18, 24 and 26 May. Tickets and more information can be found on the Royal Opera House website. The performance on 26 May will be broadcast live to medici.tv.
Following the Royal Opera House run, Lessons in Love and Violence will be performed at Dutch National Opera as part of the Holland Festival in June and July 2018.