Semi-staged Concert Performance
GEORGE BENJAMIN: Written on Skin
- Conductor George Benjamin
Agnès Barbara Hannigan
Angel 1/ The Boy Tim Mead
Angel 2/ Marie Victoria Simmonds
Angel 3/ John Robert Murray
The Protector Christopher Purves
Stage Director Benjamin Davis
ABOUT THIS CONCERT
This semi-staged concert performance of George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin forms the core and conclusion of a three-day spotlight on composer/conductor George Benjamin at Konzerthaus Dortmund, entitled Zeitinsel George Benjamin.
Written on Skin is based on an old Occitane legend – a story of love and death, of power and bravery. The drama takes place in the 13th century, but is told from a contemporary perspective. A small choir of three angels brings the audience back to the past and narrates the drama, which recounts a love triangle between a man, his wife, and an illustrator of manuscripts.
George Benjamin’s score demands extraordinary orchestral forces, including a glass harmonica, mandolins, tuned cowbells, a typewriter and bongo drums. It creates a highly expressive soundscape with a wide range of colours, in which instrumental and vocal timbres are closely connected.
Played by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of George Benjamin, and with leading vocalists Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves, this production features the majority of the original cast that performed the acclaimed Written on Skin World Premiere at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2012.
The MCO and all the vocalists of this European tour were also featured at Written on Skin’s US stage premiere at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York in August 2015. The premiere was hailed as “the Cultural Event of the New York summer season” by The Washington Post.
Stage director Benjamin Davis’ reduced concert version is based on the original staging by Katie Mitchell, but accentuates the role of the orchestra by placing it on stage.