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The jilted knight serves his wife her lover's heart, and after she tastes it, unaware of the truth, he shows her the decapitated head of the artist. The bloody medieval legend is attributed to the 12th century Provençal troubadour Guillem de Cabestany and was included in The Decameron by Boccaccio, and it served as the inspiration for George Benjamin to create his grandest opera. This disciple of Olivier Messiaen, and the youngest composer to have a première at the London Proms, turns the legend into a story of passionate and destructive love with a subtle, sensuous musical language, coloured by an orchestra that includes curious instruments such as the viola da gamba and the glass harmonica. As in his other opera, Into the Little Hill, George Benjamin and Martin Crimp recreate ancient history through a contemporary lens, showing a double time period where the characters belong to a modern setting, as commentators of the unfurling drama, and also in the medieval period, as actors. George Benjamin directed the apotheosis première of the opera at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2012, and he will direct it again at the Teatro Real.


"Written on Skin"

Opera in semi-staged version

Libretto by Martin Crimp, based on the medieval legend of the troubadour Guillem de Cabestany
First performed at the Aix-en-Provence Festival on 7 July 2012

Première at the Teatro Real

Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Production Team & Cast

  • Musical director: George Benjamin
· - ·
  • Protector: Christopher Purves
  • Agnes: Barbara Hannigan
  • First Angel / Boy: Tim Mead
  • Second Angel / Marie: Victoria Simmonds
  • Third Angel / John: Robert Murray

Performance Dates

  • 17 MAR (T) 21:00h
  • Place: Main Auditorium

Programme of show

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