Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Opera: Written on Skin

Royal Opera House, London WC2

    After seeing Written on Skin, I have some idea what it must have been like to have been at the premiere of Peter Grimes. Just as Britten’s opera was immediately obvious as a masterpiece — and not just of British opera —so, too, George Benjamin’s work is a league above any other new opera I have seen.

    From its first note to its last, through 90 riveting minutes, Written on Skin shows that reports of opera’s demise are nonsense. In the right hands, it can still be the most gripping of all performance media.

    Benjamin’s score is at once exquisite, threatening, melodic and translucent. Better still, the match of music and libretto (by the playwright Martin Crimp) is not merely seamless but organic. And, as a theatrical performance, it is difficult to imagine anything more compelling.

    The story is simple. A medieval landowner hires an illustrator to celebrate his life in a book. The landowner’s wife seduces the artist. The cuckold kills him and forces the wife to eat her lover’s heart. But that simplicity masks a wonderfully rich opera.

    There are three performances left. Drop everything. Go. (www.roh.org.uk)

Music

Teenage family trio get set for double premiere...

Anonymous

Teenage family trio get set for double premiere...
Music

Barry Kosky: A kangaroo with a nose for opera

Jessica Duchen

Barry Kosky: A kangaroo with a nose for opera
Music

Crossing borders in music and life

Jessica Duchen

Crossing borders in music and life
Music

She's 90, but the music keeps playing

Anonymous

She's 90, but the music keeps playing
Music

A triumph of Dylanology

Bryan Cheyette

A triumph of Dylanology
Music

The classical star inspired by astrology

Rosa Doherty

The classical star inspired by astrology
Music

The family who are always in harmony

Jessica Duchen

The family who are always in harmony
Music

Be in no doubt: Bob Dylan changed literature

Stoddard Martin

Be in no doubt: Bob Dylan changed literature
Music

Craig's bid for a serious comeback

Elisa Bray

Craig's bid for a serious comeback