Rave reviews for Written on Skin


A semi-staged production of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin travelled to major European concert halls this month, as part of a tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer.
The production featured a majority of the original cast that performed the highly acclaimed world premiere at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2012. Barbara reprised the role of Agnès, which she created and has subsequently sung in major cities throughout Europe and North America.

Reviews from George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin

Bachtrack, Mark Pullinger, 20 March 2016
(5 out of 5 stars)

“Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves are indelibly associated with their roles as Agnès and The Protector. Hannigan’s dramatic commitment and fearless soprano was incredible; she bends notes so seductively that it wasn’t just Tim Mead’s Boy who fell under her spell. Stabbing an ivory finger to the skies and demanding that the Boy makes her Protector “cry blood”, her performance thrilled to the core.”

The Guardian, Tim Ashley, 20 March 2016
(4 out of 5 stars)

“The score is masterful in its tension and compression, its spareness of detail, both vocal and instrumental, speaking volumes. The MCO played it with an almost queasy beauty, and the singing was flawless. Christopher Purves and Barbara Hannigan, who also created the roles of the Protector and Agnès, are remarkable vocal actors, and their interpretations intensify with time.”

The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 20 March 2016
(5 out of 5 stars)

“If Written on Skin doesn’t end up a modern classic, I’ll eat my hat. This flawless concert performance demonstrated an extraordinary collaboration between composer and librettist in which every sonority, every flicker, every word registers with electric clarity and force.
A magnificent cast of five addresses the drama with absolute dedication: Victoria Simmonds and Robert Murray as the Angels, Christopher Purves as the anguished Protector, Barbara Hannigan as the wife, Tim Mead as the artist.”

Seen and Heard International, 17 March 2016

“Agnès was played by Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan, one of the most interesting artists today. In addition to being a great singer, she is an outstanding actress. Ms. Hannigan has been Agnès since the opera premiered, and I find her irreplaceable in the part. She has made contemporary opera her warhorse, and triumphed here.”

Sonograma Magazine, 19 March 2016

“The renowned conductor and soprano Barbara Hannigan, in the role of Agnès, made an impressive performance. Her talent, emotional intensity and ability to dramatize any scene make this artist one of the leading interpreters of contemporary music. Barcelona craves for more visits from Barbara Hannigan!”

El Pais, 18 March 2016

“The performance of Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan was very impressive as Agnès, showing vocal power, and as a character, devastating.”


photo credit: Teatro Real, Javier del Real