28th December 2018
The British composer's third opera, based on the downfall of Edward II and starring French baritone Stéphane Degout as the conflicted monarch, has a compact, claustrophobic beauty.
George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s second full-length opera – following the acclaimed Written on Skin – draws on the real-life relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston to explore how personal relationships can have fatal political consequences. The King lives in a close but uneasy relationship with his wife Isabel, their two children and his lover Gaveston.
When the King banishes his military advisor Mortimer, he sets off a chain of devastating events. Benjamin’s richly-orchestrated score perfectly captures the drama’s intense emotions, while director Katie Mitchell provides a visually stunning contemporary staging, highlighting the timelessness of the opera’s main themes. The composer himself conducts a superb international cast. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true Surround Sound.
”George Benjamin and Martin Crimp have done it again. Six years after their previous operatic collaboration, the masterly Written on Skin, Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Crimp have again dared to challenge audiences by remaining true to their uncompromising visions. In Lessons in Love and Violence, (…) the music, written and compellingly conducted by Mr. Benjamin, is unapologetically modernist, while the libretto, by Mr. Crimp, is often cryptic. Without pandering, they’ve made another significant contribution to the art form.” The New York Times
‘‘His [George Benjamin's] music, like Crimp’s words, is at once brilliantly clear and full of half-suggested meanings. Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande lurks in the background, a benign influence casting rays of light into this world of moral darkness. Although Benjamin does not write conventional arias, it seems there is barely a line that this cast does not shape with beauty and expressiveness.’’ The Financial Times ****