Benjamin: Written on Skin


George Benjamin, conductor and composer (Composer-in-Residence)
Dan Ayling, director

Audun Iversen, The protector
Vera-Lotte Boecker, Agnes
Hugh Cutting, Angel 1/The boy
Rebecca Jo Loeb, Angel 2/Marie
Alasdair Kent, Angel 3/John

Music: George Benjamin
Text: Martin Crimp
Commissioned by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence,
De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam), Théâtre du Capitole (Toulouse),
Royal Opera House Covent Garden (London),
Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Performed by arrangement with Faber Music, London.


Fartein Valen, Stavanger konserthus

‘Incredibly beautiful… the pinnacle of contemporary output.’
Le Monde (Renaud Machart), 10 July 2012

Three angels look back to a period in the past when books were precious artefacts with texts written on skin. One of the angels acts out the role of an olden-day illustrator who has been commissioned by the rich and powerful Protector to create a beautifully illuminated manuscript setting out the Protector’s biography. In his patron’s home the angel encounters Agnès, the Protector’s younger wife, who is still a virgin on account of her husband’s self-imposed abstinence. Despite this, he is jealous and keeps a close eye on her – to no avail, because Agnès begins an affair with the angel in his incarnation as an artist. The Protector learns of their relationship and kills the illustrator. Then he serves his unwitting wife the heart of her lover as part of a meal.