Eleven years after the memorable success of Written on Skin, composer George Benjamin and librettist Martin Crimp created another theatrical piece for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Picture a day like this will bring the orchestra back to its roots in Aix-en-Provence. In the founding years, the festival served as a playground for the sound- and philosophy shaping of the young orchestra. Playing through several productions of Mozart operas, with Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding, forged a special quality between the musicians that one can still observe to this day. That quality is translated in the philosophy that is called The Sound of Listening, the process of communication through the music, which has allowed the orchestra to play and grow without a conductor. Returning to Aix-en-Provence reminds the musicians of where they came from and how far they have come since those early days.
“This opera was designed for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra,” explained George Benjamin in a 2012 interview about Written on Skin. “I could remember the sound of the orchestra and its special qualities while writing.” George Benjamin chose the MCO to play the world premiere of his new opera after having conducted the MCO in a concert at the Lucerne Festival in 2009. “I was physically struck by the sound the orchestra makes; it has a sort of golden colour. It was one of the most important, meaningful musical collaborations I can remember in all my life.”