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Your reaction: Written on Skin

Audience thoughts from the UK premiere of George Benjamin's dark and passionate opera.

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

9 March 2013 at 10.25am | 5 Comments

Your reaction: Written on Skin

Audience thoughts from the UK premiere of George Benjamin's dark and passionate opera.

Storified by Royal Opera House· Mon, Mar 11 2013 03:43:39

Written on Skin audience member Rhiannon © ROH/Chris ShipmanRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Rhiannon: 'I'm still trying to process it all and I'm a bit overwhelmed but it was amazing. I feel like I need to come and see it again. I loved the music, especially the glass harmonica. Katie Mitchell's direction is so unique.'
Written on Skin audience member Andrew © ROH/Chris ShipmanRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Andrew: 'The little details were very powerfu, like the slow motion, l but I don't know what the people were doing upstairs. I liked the modern references in the libretto and how this was reflected in the staging.'
Written on Skin audience members Justyna and Emmet © ROH/Chris ShipmanRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Justyna and Emmet: 'It's the first opera that Emmet has been to and we bought the £3 tickets in the Amphi which for the price were great. It was very powerful and he'd definitely come to come back, but perhaps to see something more traditional. We really liked the music and vocally was very strong.'
Written on Skin audience member Tony © ROH/Chris ShipmanRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Tony: 'It's a lovely production and visually is very interesting. Given it's an unfamiliar story it felt understandable and the singers' incredible diction meant that you didn't need surtitles. Just super!'
A selection of your tweets:
'Written on Skin' great new opera from George Benjamin, definately worth seeing #ROHskinMichael Durcan
#ROHskin last night was...interesting. Totally gripping piece of theatre but I'm afraid modern opera doesn't have enough melodyKaren Richardson
I know one thing about #ROHskin - I immediately want to hear it again.Neil Fisher
#ROHSkin Fascinating and compelling viewing-totally drawn in-a *must see* tickets are so reasonable for such a high quality production!Anne Salter
#ROHskin My wife says she's glad we got tickets to see @HanniganBarbara instead of Beyonce. Huge compliment!Jeremy Clay
Christopher Purves as Protector in Written on Skin © 2012 ROH/Stephen CummiskeyRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
Keen students of Katie Mitchell's work will have been ticking off the trope list, furiously trying to keep up with them all. #ROHSkinMark Valencia
Didn't really get #ROHSkin - liked the orchestration a lot though, esp. mandolins (?) and glass harmonica. Maybe I need to see it again?Noisy Nothing
One of those nights when contemporary opera totally makes sense. Thank you @RoyalOperaHouse #ROHskinEntartete Musik
Style and passion abound at opening night of Written on Skin... But not sure they need to sing the stage directions... #rohskinPaul
the more I think about it, the more extraordinary #ROHskin was. Very compelling, and a young and interested audience too. Top evening!Ed Zanders
Written on Skin © 2012 ROH/Stephen CummiskeyRoyal Opera House Covent Garden
5 stars from the Guardian
Written on Skin - reviewEven the greatest opera composers tend to have a few early attempts that get swept under the carpet. George Benjamin, however, seems to h...
5 stars from the Telegraph
Written On Skin, Royal Opera House, review - TelegraphIt's not often that I've had cause to trumpet such a claim, but here is a new opera that is palpably a serious and important work of art,...
3 stars from the Arts Desk
Written on Skin, Royal Opera | Opera reviews, news & interviews | The Arts DeskVicki Mortimer's sets complicate things in a good way It's hard to put one's finger on why George Benjamin's new opera doesn't work. It c...

What did you think of Written on Skin?

Written on Skin runs until 22 March. Tickets are still available.

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

9 March 2013 at 10.25am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Katie Mitchell, Production, review, Social Media, twitter, Written on Skin, your reaction

This article has 5 comments

  1. Richard Macve responded on 9 March 2013 at 3:44pm Reply

    Music and singing and acting tension fantastic: 'extra rooms' staging just pointlessly distracting....very topical with Richard III under the car park.....!

  2. This is art. This is cutting edge. This is extraordinary. This makes me realise what true talent is and how utterly ordinary I am. Thank you.

  3. Leslie Rocker responded on 30 June 2013 at 10:53am Reply

    I have only seen this via television, so perhaps some of the significance of the split screen production was lost on me, but there did seem to be a number of inconsistencies that certainly detracted from my enjoyment of it.
    It was not the Jews who were required to wear a yellow sign, but the Cathars and the "crusade" of the day was against them, not the Arabs.
    Guillem was a Troubadour, and unlikely to have been an "illuminator", work still confined mainly at that period to monasteries.
    The name of Raimon's wife was Margerida, although she was also known as Serismonda. Agnes was her sister, not his wife. I wonder if she has been confused with an earlier wife named Agnes, who ran the province during the absence of her husband.
    The really sad thing about the opera, however, is how little credence is given to the Cathar culture of the day and its emphasis on "paratge", which stood for honour, courtesy, nobility, chivalry and gentility. I don't know what the strange people who acted as stage managers were supposed to be, but the main characters were presented as peasants.
    In the original legend the lady ends her life by jumping to her death from a castle tower, but she would have been hard put to do so through that (glazed!) casement window.

  4. Leslie Rocker responded on 1 July 2013 at 1:58pm Reply

    Some 50-odd years ago, as a young writer, I became engrossed in the Occitan culture, the Cathars and the Troubadours and put the story of Guillem and Raimon of Rousillon into blank verse. More recently I published it via AuthorHouse, together with other of my poetry in a book entitled "The Devil and Mrs Brown". Perhaps those responsible for the opera would like to read it. I believe it is still available from the publishers.
    I have always believed that more should be known about the Cathar culture and the influence of the Troubadours (later the Trouveres) on European literature and I am now working on the first draft of a novel that incorporates the original story into a modern text.
    Leslie Rocker

  5. Gabriel responded on 2 March 2015 at 11:05pm Reply

    This is for Leslie (just in case you read it). There is some missinformation about Guillem de Cabestany. He was not occitan, nor cathar. He was Catalan. He was born and died in the country whose capital is Barcelona. And it has nothing to do with Occitania, other than the close cultural relationship between both (including the fact that the Catalan languaje comes originally from a variety of occitan), and the fact that later one, the Catalan sovreign (who had also the title of King of Aragon) ruled from Barcelona over Occitania until 1213, when the francs took over the whole Occitania, Catalonia remained independent at that time, but in 1659 the Spanish king, who had just won a war against the Catalans, gave the north of the country to Louis XIV (Sun King). In that northen part of Catalonia was the Rossello, with the towns Cabestany and Perpinya, where Guillem de Cabestany was born and where he died, respectivelly. So, northen Catalonia joined then Occitania as discriminated parts of France and target of the French cultural genocide. Both languajes failed to be derogativelly called by the French as "patoise". I guess that the fact that Northen Catalonia being a sall fraction in comparison to the vast extenssion of Occitania, and, also, the fact that the most of Catalonia remained under Spanish made people believe that Catalonia was just a part of Spain and that the Rossello must have been some kind of Provençal or, in general, Occitanean area. But this is a Historic mistake out of ignorance of the actual History.

    I hope this comment is of some help.

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