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Benjamin: Written On Skin [Katie Mitchell, Martin Crimp, Christopher Purves, Barbara Hannigan] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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  • Benjamin: Written On Skin [Katie Mitchell, Martin Crimp, Christopher Purves, Barbara Hannigan] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]
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Product details

  • Actors: Katie Mitchell, Martin Crimp, Christopher Purves, Barbara Hannigan, Bejun Mehta
  • Format: Classical, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Japanese
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Jan. 2014
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00GJ6KA9K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,646 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

With a score by George Benjamin and text by Martin Crimp, Written on Skin has been hailed as ‘magic and irresistible … the best opera written over the last twenty years’ (Le Monde). A cruel and powerful Protector (Christopher Purves) asks a mysterious Boy (Bejun Mehta) to create an illuminated book in honour of his wealth and family. He invites the Boy into his home, little realizing that this will lead to a journey of startling, joyful and ultimately tragic self-discovery for the Protector's oppressed and much younger wife Agnès (Barbara Hannigan). Acclaimed director Katie Mitchell brings this
dark and intense story to life in an inventive production that skilfully combines elements
of the past and present, with Benjamin himself conducting. Filmed in High Definition 25p and recorded in true Surround Sound.

Press Reviews

"Magic and irresistible ... It is the best opera written over the last twenty years." (Le Monde)
"Written on Skin is close to being a masterpiece." (Le Figaro)
"Would the opera work so well without a Protector as adept at portraying cruel, complex characters as baritone Christopher Purves, or a soprano combining fierce presence with such pure tone as Barbara Hannigan, or a countertenor Boy sounding as beguiling and other-worldly as Bejun Mehta? Perhaps not quite. But it would still be a musical masterpiece." (The Guardian)
"This is music of genius. It also draws superb performances from a flawless cast: Christopher Purves (the castellan), Barbara Hannigan (his wife), Bejun Mehta (the artist), and Allan Clayton and Victoria Simmonds as the choric angels, who seem to instigate as well as observe the action.

Benjamin's conducting of his own music was literally authoritative, and the orchestral playing was ravishing. After a long run of mediocrity at the Royal Opera, what joy to encounter something as enthralling and enchanting as this.
"
(The Daily Telegraph)
Awards
Gramophone Award {2014} (Contemporary)

International Opera Award (UK) {2013} – World premiere

Opernwelt – Premiere of the Year {2013} – Best new work

Grand Prix Du Syndicat de la critique {2013} – Opera

Opéra Magazine – La Diamant d’opera {2013} – Opera

BASCA Award {2013} – Stage Category

New York Times –‘Favorite Classical record of the Year’ 2013

South Bank Sky Arts Award {2014} – Opera

Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik {2014} - DVD

Choc de Classica {2014} - DVD

Royal Philharmonic Society’s Large-Scale Composition {2014} – Opera

Cast
CHRISTOPHER PURVES (The Protector)
BARBARA HANNIGAN (Agnès)
BEJUN MEHTA (Angel 1/ The Boy)
VICTORIA SIMMONDS (Angel 2/ Marie)
ALLAN CLAYTON (Angel 3/ John)
DAVID ALEXANDER, LAURA HARLING, PETER HOBDAY, SARAH NORTHGRAVES (Angel Archivists)
Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House; George Benjamin

Stage Director: Katie Mitchell
Television Director: Margaret Williams
Catalogue Number: OA1125D
Date of Performance: 2013
Running Time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, JP
Label: Opus Arte

Review

George Benjamin's first opera, Written on Skin, had been eagerly anticipated. A co-production between The Royal Opera, Festival d'Aix en Provence and others, by the time it arrived at the Royal Opera House in early 2013, expectations were sky high. And it didn't disappoint some called it a masterpiece, but the less hyperbolic critics agreed it was one of the best contemporary operas this century. Katie Mitchell's staging divided opinions - was it too cluttered? - but the music was exquisite, and after Anna Nicole, the Royal Opera needed an opera with musical credibility. Playwright Martin Crimp had taken a medieval French folk tale and framed it with a 21st-century story acted out by angels. Benjamin provided a score with the delicate beauty and bright colour of the medieval illuminations that run throughout the plot. The Opus Arte DVD captures the production beautifully too close-ups intensifying the erotic tension between the 'eternal triangle' of the Protector (Christopher Purves), his young wife Agnès (Barbara Hannigan) and the Boy (Bejun Mehta). It s an ideal cast: Hannigan's silvery, versatile high soprano, Purves's virile baritone and Mehta's sweet but substantial countertenor each have their counterpart in the tapestry of Benjamin's orchestra which includes a glass harmonica, a bass viol, and cowbells. After 90 minutes of building tension, the ending is violent and unexpected. The whole experience is cathartic and uplifting. You ll want to watch it again as soon as it s over. --Sinfini Music, 24/2/14

This is an outstanding release in every way. There's not a note out of place in Benjamin's luminous score. Make no mistake: this a true masterpiece. Performance ***** Picture & Sound ***** Extras **** DVD OF THE MONTH --BBC Music Magazine, Apr'14

The cast is excellent, especially Barbara Hannigan as the wife, combining vocal trapeze-work with a thoroughly modern dramatic intensity, and Christopher Purves in the Golaud like role of the husband, forever searching for, and denying to himself, the truth. A new opera that will surely repay repeated viewings. /// Katie Mitchell's much-praised production is seen here in its Covent Garden incarnation with Benjamin himself at the helm. The original cast responds with tailor-made immediacy. --Gramophone, Apr'14/// Gramophone, April'17



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