Disturbing, dark and dramatic, a must see for opera fans,
This review is from: Benjamin: Written On Skin [Katie Mitchell, Martin Crimp, Christopher Purves, Barbara Hannigan] [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
Disturbing, dark and violent, but full of passion and completely different from anything I have ever seen. Written on Skin tells the story of the Boy, the Protector and his wife, Agnes.
The protector commissions the boy to create an extravagant illuminated book to honour his wealth and life. This however acts as a catalyst for the rebellion of his much younger wife, Agnes, much to the Protector's anger, which Christopher Purves portrays excellently. The Protector then murders the Boy, forcing Agnes to eat his heart to prove her obedience, to which she says 'not if you strip me to the bone with acid' will ever take the taste of the boys heart out of her mouth. To this the Protector takes a knife with the intention of killing Agnes, but she takes her own life instead by jumping from the balcony.
The DVD is a fantastic option for a newbie opera goer like myself as not only does in have subtitles (in English, French, German and Japanese), but it also includes a detailed synopsis which admittedly without either I would have struggled to follow the production.
The set was incredibly striking, divided into four rooms which represented the past and the present with the story carefully created to combine both elements in what I found to be a very dramatic production. The lighting and camera angles were equally as innovative, some showing a birds eye view of the set whilst others focused simply on one room.
I found both the singing and acting outstanding, the character development was excellent and each role was so different but each well defined. Barbara Hannigan's compelling portrayal of Agnes was particularly remarkable and because of the camera angles you could see every facial expression and small detail which really allowed me to fully appreciate the magnificent acting from a view that I would never have had from my usual Amphi seat.
Even though I found the story difficult to follow at times, I loved the production and how powerful it was. I really think it is a must see for opera fans because of the originality and quality of the production