Picture a day like this, a new opera from the acclaimed partnership of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp, will premiere this summer at the Aix-en-Provence Festival on July 5 at the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume. The world premiere production will be directed by Daniel Jeanneteau and Marie-Christine Soma. Benjamin himself conducts the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in 9 performances of the work. The cast comprises Marianne Crebassa, Anna Prohaska, Fatma Said, Cameron Shahbazi and John Brancy.

Picture a day like this is both a vivid and thought-provoking fable that follows a young woman’s desperate search for a tangible proof of happiness. It is scored for a chamber orchestra of 22 instrumentalists and is just over an hour in length. Co-commissioned by the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opéra national du Rhin, Opéra Comique, Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Opera Köln, and the Teatro di San Carlo, the opera sees Benjamin return to the Aix Festival, where his critically acclaimed opera Written on Skin premiered in 2012.

Daniel Jeanneteau directed Benjamin’s first stage work with Crimp Into the Little Hill (2006) at its premiere at the Festival d’Automne in Paris, and subsequently at several venues including the Lincoln Centre, New York, and the Lucerne Festival. Countertenor Cameron Shahbazi has previously appeared in Oper Köln’s production of Written on Skin in December 2020; in April 2023 he performs Dream of the Song as part of the Gürzenich Orchester’s George Benjamin focus and ChorWerk Ruhr, conducted by the composer at the Philharmonie in Cologne.

Benjamin is an artist-in-focus this year at the Aix Festival, which will see two concerts of his orchestral music. On 20 July Susanna Mälkki conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in Benjamin’s 2021 Concerto for Orchestra. On 19 July Benjamin himself will conduct At First Light with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, in a programme including works by Ligeti, Abrahamsen, and Ravel.