Royal Opera House 2016-17 Preview: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Written on Skin’

By David Salazar

George Benjamin’s “Written on Skin” makes its return to the Royal Opera House on Friday, Jan. 13 for five performances.

The opera, Benjamin’s first full-length work in the genre, had its premiere at the 2012 Aix-en-Provence Festival and then arrived at the Royal Opera House in 2013. The work is divided into 15 scenes and takes place in 13th Century Provence. The libretto is written Martin Crimp.

The first performance of the work takes place on the 13th and features a cast that includes Christopher Purves as the Protector, Barbara Hannigan as Agnes, Iestyn Davies as Angel 1 and the Boy, Victoria Simmonds as Angel 2 and Marie and Mark Padmore as Angel 3 and John. Georgia Jarman rotates with Hannigan for two of the five performances. Benjamin conducts the Royal Opera House orchestra.

The second performance takes place on the 18th with the third on the 23, the fourth on the 27th and fifth and final one on Jan. 30, 2017. The work is show with no intermission and lasts around one hour and 30 minutes.

The success of “Written on Skin” has reportedly prompted the Royal Opera House to commission another work by Benjamin and Crimp.

Prior to “Written on Skin” Benjamin wrote a short operatic work called “Into the Little Hill” in 2008. Crimp was the librettist for the work.

There is a DVD release of the opera’s first run at the Royal Opera House. It features most of the cast members from this year’s run including Hannigan, Purves and Simmonds.