A new production of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s Lessons in Love in Violence, directed by Kay Mezger and conducted by Panagiotis Papadopoulos, opens at Theater Ulm on 8 June and in rep until 12 July.

The 90-minute opera, in two unbroken parts, draws on the real-life relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston to explore how the personal can become fatally political. The King lives in a close but uneasy relationship with his wife Isabel, their two children and his lover Gaveston. When the King banishes his military advisor Mortimer, he sets off a chain of devastating events.

Metzger’s production is the third full staging of the 2017 opera, following a new realisation by Evgeny Titov at Opernhaus Zürich in May 2023, and the world premiere staging by Katie Mitchell at the Royal Opera House. The role of the King is sung by baritone Dae-Hee Shin and Isabel sung by soprano Maria Rosendorfsky. Gaveston, the King's lover, is played by Martin Gäbler, Mortimer by tenor Markus Francke, and the Boy/Young King by Joshua Spink. The production is designed by Petra Mollérus and lit by Johannes Grebing, with Christian Stolz as dramaturg.

In spring 2023 Benjamin conducted the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy on a European tour of Lessons in Love in Violence, presented in a concert staging devised by Dan Ayling, which included the Belgian premiere of the piece at BOZAR, alongside performances at the Dortmund Konzerthaus, Kölner Philharmonie, and Essen Philharmonie.

In January 2025 the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle will premiere and tour Interludes and Aria (from Lessons in Love and Violence) with Barbara Hannigan, performing the work at the Barbican and subsequently at the Philharmonie de Paris.

On 19 June Benjamin receives the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Bilbao. A concert celebrating his music includes the Spanish premiere of his Concerto for Orchestra (2021) as well as a performance of Dance Figures (2004) from the Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid conducted by Santiago Serrate.

Secretary of the committee, Víctor García de Gomar, Artistic Director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, said of Benjamin: “We are probably talking about the most important name in contemporary music. And he is still a formidable creative force. Every new addition to his catalogue is eagerly awaited, especially in the world of opera”. Read the full citation, including comments on Benjamin's music from conductor Josep Pons, who gave the Spanish premiere of Lessons in Love and Violencehere