The Mahler Chamber Orchestra performed the World Premiere of Written on Skin under the baton of the composer George Benjamin in 2012, and will now play its long awaited US stage premiere at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The production features original staging by Katie Mitchell and two of the main roles from the original cast: Barbara Hannigan as Agnès and Christopher Purves as the Protector.
“It is big art, hard art, tender art, brutal art. Written on Skin above all is very real art,” stated Opera Today after the World Premiere at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. The audience reacted with a standing ovation. The piece was honored with the Opera Award 2013 and has conquered international opera stages all over Europe with more than 60 performances since its premiere.
“This opera was designed for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra,” explained George Benjamin in a 2012 interview. “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.”
This project is the orchestra’s debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival, and its second tour to New York in 2015. In February, the MCO played two concerts with Leif Ove Andsnes and The Beethoven Journey at Carnegie Hall. It is the orchestra’s fourth collaboration with Alan Gilbert.
Future plans for the MCO and Written on Skin are already set. In the spring of 2016, George Benjamin and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will perform a concert version of Written on Skin during a European tour with performances in London, Madrid, Barcelona, and other cities.