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Joe Cadagin
Opera News, July 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

George Benjamin’s darkly beautiful morality play revisits a familiar story in new ways.

The composer conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a detail-oriented performance that conveys all the subtleties of his finely crafted score. Benjamin sonically paints with the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio—much of the opera dwells in a shadowy space of creeping string counterpoint layered with sniggering, staccato woodwinds.

Rounding off the extraordinary ensemble cast are wide-eyed Samuel Boden, who lends his pure, haute-contretenor to the naïve prince, and actress Ocean Barrington-Cook, who silently communicates the princess’s loss of innocence and festering bitterness. © 2019 Opera News Read complete review




Clive Paget
Limelight, July 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

A potent voiced Stéphane Degout makes much of the King, the portrayal of his emotional downfall pulsing with anguish and disbelief. Barbara Hannigan is no simple “she-wolf”, delivering a three-dimensional portrait of Isabel and singing with grace and power. Gyula Orendt makes a sensual, dangerous Gaveston, with Peter Hoare awkward and ruthless as the hated Mortimer. Samuel Boden’s silky-toned Young King and Ocean Barrington-Cook as his sister, turn chillingly in the denouement, the result of their lessons in love and violence. A must see for lovers of new opera. © 2019 Limelight Read complete review



Opera, July 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

Playing under the intensely concentrated direction of the composer, the ROH orchestra is outstanding. This release is a triumph; it’s not to be missed. © 2019 Opera



Allan Altman
American Record Guide, July 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

The cast is a first-rate ensemble of singing actors, led by Stephane Degout as the conflicted King. Gyula Orendt is a commanding Piers, projecting a frightening intensity that is sometimes menacing, sometimes seductive. Barbara Hannigan pulls off some magnificent vocal acrobatics as Isabel, who, trapped in an untenable marriage to the king, finds a degree of solace in a relationship with his exiled advisor, Mortimer (Peter Hoare). The characterizations are all wonderfully detailed—essential for an opera that is basically a psychological study. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Richard Hanlon
MusicWeb International, May 2019

George Benjamin has finally hit his stride in his 50s. Two full-length operas emerged in relatively quick succession. The first, Written On Skin, unquestionably a masterpiece, was universally lauded as such (read the MWI review of the Opus Arte DVD). Lessons in Love and Violence received similarly glowing notices at its premiere performances last Spring. It constitutes Benjamin’s third collaboration with librettist Martin Crimp; the first was the 40-minute chamber opera Into the Little Hill, premiered in 2006.

Stéphane Degout’s King really engenders any sympathy from the audience…Barbara Hannigan is brilliant in yet another role which is almost impossible to imagine being sung by anybody else. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Pamela Margles
The WholeNote, April 2019

As riveting an actor as singer, Hannigan provides the opera’s most chilling moments as Isabel, the alluring, raging Queen. There are vivid performances from Peter Hoare as Mortimer, Isabel’s lover and the King’s nemesis, Samuel Boden as the son, Ocean Barrington-Cook as the daughter (extraordinary in a non-singing role), and Canadian mezzo Krisztina Szabó, who also sang in that TSO performance, as a courtier. But the most moving passages belong to the two splendid baritones, Stéphane Degout as the King and Gyula Orendt as his lover Gaveston, especially in their impassioned duets. © 2019 The WholeNote Read complete review




BBC Music Magazine, April 2019

[George Benjamin’s] orchestral imagination is prodigious, and both as composer and conductor he conjures up memorable soundscapes full of jittery tension. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine



Richard Fairman
Gramophone, March 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

With Benjamin himself as conductor the orchestral playing is precision tuned. © 2019 Gramophone



Records International, February 2019

Benjamin’s idiom is harmonically lush, with a palpable though remote relationship with tonal harmony and, as always, an exquisite sense of tone color that lead to some truly memorable illumination of the drama by timbral means—sinister rattlings and ticking, and the suddenly alien sound of the cimbalom at key moments. The ambiguously modern dress production, with sparse, gigantic sets arranged with a painterly eye for composition and detail, matches the magnificence and claustrophobic inevitability of the narrative. © 2019 Records International Read complete review



Prostoo Muzyce, January 2019

BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (NTSC) OA1221D 
BENJAMIN, G.: Lessons in Love and Violence [Opera] (Royal Opera House, 2018) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7199D

Musically phenomenal roles were created by Barbara Hannigan and Stephane Degout. © 2019 Prostoo Muzyce





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