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Written on Skin


4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
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(Jan 28, 2014)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

With a score by George Benjamin and text by Martin Crimp, Written on Skin has been hailed as ‘magic and irresistible … the best opera written over the last twenty years’ (Le Monde). A cruel and powerful Protector (Christopher Purves) asks a mysterious Boy (Bejun Mehta) to create an illuminated book in honour of his wealth and family. He invites the Boy into his home, little realizing that this will lead to a journey of startling, joyful and ultimately tragic self-discovery for the Protector's oppressed and much younger wife Agnès (Barbara Hannigan). Acclaimed director Katie Mitchell brings this dark and intense story to life in an inventive production that skilfully combines elements of the past and present, with Benjamin himself conducting. Filmed in High Definition 25p and recorded in true Surround Sound.

Press Reviews
"Magic and irresistible ... It is the best opera written over the last twenty years." (Le Monde)

"Written on Skin is close to being a masterpiece." (Le Figaro)

"Would the opera work so well without a Protector as adept at portraying cruel, complex characters as baritone Christopher Purves, or a soprano combining fierce presence with such pure tone as Barbara Hannigan, or a countertenor Boy sounding as beguiling and other-worldly as Bejun Mehta? Perhaps not quite. But it would still be a musical masterpiece." (The Guardian)

"This is music of genius. It also draws superb performances from a flawless cast: Christopher Purves (the castellan), Barbara Hannigan (his wife), Bejun Mehta (the artist), and Allan Clayton and Victoria Simmonds as the choric angels, who seem to instigate as well as observe the action. Benjamin's conducting of his own music was literally authoritative, and the orchestral playing was ravishing. After a long run of mediocrity at the Royal Opera, what joy to encounter something as enthralling and enchanting as this. " (The Daily Telegraph)

Gramophone Award {2014} (Contemporary)
International Opera Award (UK) {2013} – World premiere
Opernwelt – Premiere of the Year {2013} – Best new work
Grand Prix Du Syndicat de la critique {2013} – Opera
Opéra Magazine – La Diamant d’opera {2013} – Opera
BASCA Award {2013} – Stage Category
New York Times –‘Favorite Classical record of the Year’ 2013
South Bank Sky Arts Award {2014} – Opera
Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik {2014} - DVD
Choc de Classica {2014} - DVD
Royal Philharmonic Society’s Large-Scale Composition {2014} – Opera

BEJUN MEHTA (Angel 1/ The Boy)
ALLAN CLAYTON (Angel 3/ John)
Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House; George Benjamin

Company: The Royal Opera
Stage Director: Katie Mitchell
Television Director: Margaret Williams

Disc Information
Catalogue Number: OA1125D
Date of Performance: 2013
Running Time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, JP
Label: Opus Arte


This is essential viewing and listening for anyone interested in opera, or music more generally, today. --Boston Globe, David Weininger

Benjamin's chromatic vocal writing is consistently mellifluous and his sensitive and radiant orchestration never fails to impress. Mehta's eerie male soprano perfectly conveys his otherworldly, angelic character, Purves' insightful interpretation lends an element of humanity to his nefarious character and Hannigan's moving portrayal of a woman coming to self-awareness is both vocally gorgeous and dramatically incisive. --The WholeNote, Daniel Foley

In an age when contemporary British operas too often resort to shock-and-schlock tactics it is a pleasure to encounter such a concise and sophisticated jewel of an opera. --The Wholenote

The latest opera from British composer George Benjamin, "Written on Skin," effectively exhibits the potential of 21st century opera, and how new entries in this art form can still engage a modern audience. --Steven Bergman, Edge Media Network

The greatest [opera] of the past twenty years [...] Benjamin works with fastidious nuance, layering transparent landscapes that unfold in somber radiance. --Opera News, May 2014

2014 Gramophone Magazine Award Winner - Contemporary --Gramophone Magazine

With a live recording already available, why take up more shelf space with the DVD? Even though George Benjamin's first full-length opera is so psychologically laden that staging might seem superfluous, Katie Mitchell's original production matches visual layers to musical ones - with subtitles to catch every turn in Martin Crimp's text. --Gramophone, December 2014

Product details

  • Actors: Barbara Hannigan, Orchestra & Chorus Of The Royal Opera House, Victoria Simmonds, Christopher Purves, George Benjamin
  • Directors: __
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: January 28, 2014
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00GJ6KA9K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,380 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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