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Watch: A first glimpse of The Royal Opera's Lessons in Love and Violence

Before the opera's world premiere, a first chance to hear extracts from George Benjamin's score, as well as insights from the cast and creative team.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

2 May 2018 at 11.04am | 2 Comments

The cast and creative team behind Lessons in Love and Violence offered an exclusive first glimpse into their new opera at a recent ROH Insights session. The event is now available to watch in-full on demand via our YouTube channel.

The opera tells the story of a king whose decisions allow his country to slide into civil war, and set his own wife and son against him.

'One of the main themes is desire contrasted with political responsibility', said playwright Martin Crimp ahead of the world premiere of an opera inspired by Elizabethan drama. 'The king is a desiring person. He wants to invest his time in the person he loves, and in cultural artefacts. But what this means is that he takes his eye off the ball politically, and this leads to instability and chaos.'

So what should audiences expect from George Benjamin's score?

'It has something approaching speech rhythms in order to get the language across' says the composer whose previous opera for Covent Garden, Written on Skin, was a huge hit 2012. 'But I hope that the way it will be sung ― and I've written every note for the people who will be performing it ― [will mean that it will] sound a lot more lyrical than you might imagine from looking at the score.

'The music doesn't simply represent the drama in a two-dimensional way: It's not trying to manipulate emotions or simplistically reflect them; on the other hand, it can't ignore them. Thanks to the capacity of the ear to hear six or seven things simulataneously, there can be something luxuriant and brilliant, during which something dynamic and harsh is evolving. Some of those elements can disappear, and others can magnify or mutate. The music's approach to the drama is extremely unstable and I hope, seemingly, very spontaneous.'

The event also featured extracts of the score, performed by soprano Barbara Hannigan and baritone Stéphane Degout.

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Lessons in Love and Violence runs 10-26 May 2018. Tickets are still available.

The opera is a co-production with Dutch National Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, and Teatro Real, Madrid

It is staged with generous philanthropic support from The Monument Trust, Stefan Sten Olsson, Mikhail Bakhtiarov, Fondation Peters, the Boltini Trust and The John S Cohen Foundation.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

2 May 2018 at 11.04am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Katie Mitchell, insight, Lessons in Love and Violence, Production

This article has 2 comments

  1. Anne Aldridge - soprano responded on 3 May 2018 at 2:11pm Reply

    Interesting points - all best for run!

  2. Susannah Wight responded on 8 May 2018 at 3:03pm Reply

    This was a fascinating introduction to the opera and the composition of new operas in general. It's a shame Katie Mitchell didn't join the Insights evening. Fingers crossed none of the cast are ill during the run.

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