George Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence (Blu-ray)

Opus Arte
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Stéphane Degout, Barbara Hannigan, Gyula Orendt, The Royal Opera, George Benjamin

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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 onsequences. 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.

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The New York Times

"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 Financial Times
4 Stars

‘"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.’"

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George Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence

Stéphane Degout (King), Barbara Hannigan (Isabel), Gyula Orendt (Gaveston/Stranger), Peter Hoare (Mortimer), Samuel Boden (Boy/Young King), Ocean Barrington-Cook (Girl), Jennifer France (Witness 1/Singer 1/Woman 1), Krisztina Szabó (Witness 2/Singer 2/Woman 2), Andri Björn Róbertsson (Witness 3/Madman)

Orchestra of The Royal Opera House, George Benjamin (conductor), Katie Mitchell (director)