In April and May George Benjamin joins the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy to tour Lessons in Love and Violence to Germany and Belgium. The composer will conduct four performances of the 2017 opera, his third collaboration with playwright Martin Crimp, at the Dortmund Konzerthaus, Kölner Philharmonie, Essen Philharmonie, and BOZAR, where it receives its Belgian premiere.

The cast comprises Evan Hughes as the King, Gyula Orendt as Gaveston, Georgia Jarman as Isabel, Paul Curievici as Mortimer, Samuel Boden as the Young King and Boy, with Hannah Sawle, Kristina Szabó, and Tristan Hambleton as three Witnesses. 

The semi-staged performances have been devised by director Dan Ayling. The opera draws on the real-life relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston to explore how personal relationships can have fatal political consequences. 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.

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra have been integral to the creation of Benjamin’s acclaimed stage works, premiering Written on Skin in 2012 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. They return to Aix this summer to premiere Benjamin’s latest opera with Martin Crimp Picture a day like this, with the composer conducting. As part of the Aix Festival focus on Benjamin they also perform his 1982 orchestral work At First Light in concert.

In May a new production of Lessons in Love and Violence directed by Evgeny Titov opens at the Opernhaus Zürich, conducted by Ilan Volkov.