Lessons in Love and Violence

June 2, 2023, 7 p.m.

Opernhaus Zürich
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zürich

The 63-year-old Englishman Sir George Benjamin is one of the leading composers of the present day, whose works have been lauded worldwide. Notable among them are his two most recent operas, Written on Skin and Lessons in Love and Violence. Together with his regular artistic partner, English author Martin Crimp, Benjamin’s pieces of musical theater exemplify a psychologically precise, classical approach to literary-dramatic material. They are sharply contoured character studies featuring expressively vivid orchestral treatment. We now present the Swiss premiere of Benjamin’s most recent opera at the Opernhaus Zürich, Lessons in Love and Violence, which first bowed in London in 2018. The source material stems from Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe and his play Edward II, which Crimp adapted for the opera. At the center of the dark drama is the power-weary King Edward, who neglects the business of his government and his people in favor of a perverted love of art and a homoerotic relationship with his favorite, Gaveston. The king’s enemy is Mortimer, an ambitious army commander and the lover of Edward’s wife Queen Isabella. Mortimer has Gaveston executed, and the king cruelly killed. The spiral of violence eventually spreads to the next generation: Isabella and Edward’s children, who have learned lessons in love and violence. Lessons in Love and Violence is a story about the amorality of rulers, about naked lust for power and the heat of desire, and the intimate as the real battleground of political cruelty. In addition to the composer, the production brings other new artists to the Opernhaus Zürich: The firebrand Russian theater and opera director Evgeny Titov, who has caused a sensation from the Salzburg Festival to the Komische Oper Berlin in recent years, makes his debut. Meanwhile, Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov, an expert in contemporary scores, takes the conductor’s podium, and the highly touted Trinidadian-born soprano Jeanine De Bique also makes her first appearance at the Opernhaus Zürich.


Kulturstelle contact: Tina Maria Ackermann email

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