Premiered in 2018, the 90-minute opera Lessons in Love and Violence delves into the dark and turbulent events of Edward II’s life and death. George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s third collaboration, it unfolds as a taut slow-burning arch of seven tableaux.
This work boasts particularly rich string textures, and is coloured by basset horn and cimbalom together with a pair of harps, celesta, and percussion (including talking drums and tombak). Several of the opera’s powerful interludes are dominated by braying, sardonic brass – with tuba substituted by the more menacing contrabass trombone. There is also much spectacular ensemble writing: in Scene Three’s play within a play, several strands of independent music collide, and the result is perhaps one of the most complex musical structures Benjamin has ever tackled. The music’s relationship to the drama is often unstable and seemingly very spontaneous, but beneath it all one senses a rigorous architecture, unflinchingly guiding the listener deeper and deeper into the opera’s disquieting emotional world.
This full score is a perfect accompaniment to the previously published vocal score and text.