Sir George Benjamin Holland Festival

Sir George Benjamin is composer in focus at the 2018 Holland Festival. Find out more about the focus programme which has been curated by Sir George Benjamin in consultation with the Holland Festival to show the development of his work, from the first vocal composition to the latest large-scale opera.

Lessons in Love and Violence - Sir George Benjamin and National Opera & Ballet
After the overwhelming success of Written on Skin in the 2012/13 season at the Dutch National Opera, British composer Sir George Benjamin returns with Lessons in Love and Violence, his long-awaited third opera. Lessons in Love and Violence, created in collaboration with his regular librettist Martin Crimp, will have its Dutch premiere during the Holland Festival 2018, with the composer himself conducting the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. The high-profile British director, Katie Mitchell, who also directed Written on Skin, will again be in charge of the staging, with designer Vicki Mortimer once more partnering her for this production. The high-profile British director, who also directed Benjamin’s Written on Skin, will again be in charge of the staging. Designer Vicki Mortimer will once more partner her in this production. 

25 June - 5 July 2018 - Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Tickets and more information on the Holland Festival website

Der Müde Tod - Fritz Lang & Sir George Benjamin
The silent film classic, Fritz Lang’s Der müde Tod (1921), is accompanied live by Sir George Benjamin on the piano. This expressionist and romantic film, also known internationally as Destiny, follows several tragic storylines, including that of a woman who wants to be reunified with her dead husband. Sir George Benjamin has been accompanying silent films since his student days. He says it taught him a lot that was later useful as an opera composer. His approach is to avoid the clichés of film music, react as spontaneously as he can to the images – preferably without any prior knowledge of the film – and sometimes apply contrasting colours. The Pathé Tuschinski cinema, which opened in 1921, is the perfect place to see the creative process of one of the greatest composers of our age in action.

16 June 2018 - Pathé Tuschinski
Tickets and more information on the Holland Festival website.  

Written on Skin - Sir George Benjamin and Mahler Chamber Orchestra
It is one of the most talked-about and successful operas composed this century. The composer Sir George Benjamin and the librettist Martin Crimp created the modern masterpiece Written on Skin (2012): it is dark, packed with excitement and jealousy, and ends in violence. The story is based on a 13th century legend about an artist who seduces his patron’s wife. The patron then murders the artist, whose heart he feeds to his adulterous wife. Benjamin’s music – which is already compared to Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck – moves with magnificent skill between moments of tranquil beauty and unmistakable brutality. This semi-staged performance, based on Katie Mitchell’s 2012 production, is played by the world renowned Mahler Chamber Orchestra, for which the work was composed.

28 June 2018 - Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
Tickets and more information on the Holland Festival website

Sometime Voices - Sir George Benjamin, Tom Coult, Edward Nesbit, Radio Philharmonic Orchestra & the Groot Omroepkoor
This concert by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Radio Choir conducted by Martyn Brabbins shows the scope of his music. Dance Figures (2004) is packed with the lively and colourful contrasts for which Benjamin is famous. The vocal work Sometime Voices (1996), for baritone, choir and orchestra, is based on a description of the magical music in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It is the first piece by George Benjamin to use a singer and the start of his journey to writing opera. Tom Coult’s fast and changeable Sonnet Machine (2015), and Edward Nesbit’s In spite of the mere objectiveness of things (2016) will also be performed. Both composers studied with George Benjamin. Lastly, the Canon & Fugue (from The Art of Fugue) arrangement (2007) is George Benjamin’s tribute to Bach.

23 June 2018 - Koninklijk Concertgebouw
Tickets and more information on the Holland Festival website

See also