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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    A Review of George Benjamin's Third Opera

    I haven't seen Lessons in Love and Violence yet, which is a pity, given that I'm such a fan of George Benjamin's. As you all know, I love Written on Skin above all contemporary operas - no wonder I wrote a book about it (although I must say that Luce mie traditrici and The Extermination Angel are worthy contenders for my personal number 1, but while they have almost matched it, they haven't dislodged it), and George's first effort Into the Little Hill is not to be forgotten either, since we do see in this chamber work the seeds of the spectacular piece that followed it.

    So I'm very happy that this reviewer found Lessons in Love and Violence to be, as he puts it, another towering masterpiece.

    He places George as matching Harrison Birtwistle as best English opera composer since Purcell, and he compares George and his works to Mozart's, Berg's, Janacek's, Mussorgsky's, and Wagner's. Good company, George!

    This review does justice to what a contemporary generation often fails to realize: that one is in the presence of pure genius. That's George Benjamin. From the beginning (and I personally told him that; he reacted with modesty), I realized that I had met a living legend, one who will be looked at, by future generations, as one of the most important operatic composers in History. Give him the time and distance of a couple of generations, and his talent will be recognized as such.

    I also liked that this reviewer appropriately went after other critics who expressed ennui because George's third opera is also a collaboration, for the third time, with Michael Crimp, calling it "more of the same." He correctly said that these people probably would have berated Mozart for collaborating a third time with Lorenzo da Ponte... As we know, from that fertile collaboration, three of the greatest operas of all time were created. So, like this reviewer, I see no problem whatsoever in George rejoining his favorite team (and this includes Katie Mitchell, and the gorgeous Barbara Hannigan).

    The only thing I didn't like about this review, is that he implied that Verdi is kitsch.

    Whoops... the same disrespect he is berating in others, he showed for another undisputed master. So, the Verdi of Otello, Falstaff, and Macbeth is kitsch? Whoa... Sorry, dear reviewer, but that's the only place where you slipped. Sure, people get jaded with the overexposed romanticism of La Traviata (which I will continue to unconditionally love regardless of how many hundreds of times I see it, given what I've mentioned over and over: the exquisite craftsmanship of each little piece of music matching the story, and I mean really musically speaking in structural terms, which many people fail to notice).

    Anyway, other than for this faux pas, I loved this review, and it increased my curiosity for seeing an opera that is really overdue in my basket list (a problem I've just remedied by ordering the blu-ray, available [here], so soon I'll be able to write my own review).

    http://boulezian.blogspot.com/2018/0...nce-royal.html
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); March 10th, 2019 at 12:50 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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