I arrived on Saturday morning in Marseille after an overnight flight from Philadelphia (via Munich). Thanks to the nice lady at Avis - she provided an Alfa Romeo for the subcompact price I booked :) - I had a pleasant drive from Marseille to Aix. (Note: I am a bit of a car nut that has a bit of a lead foot so I was VERY happy)!! The first opera of the trip was THE HOUSE TAKEN OVER by the incredibly talented Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça, who studied with George Benjamin. This chamber work produced at their ideal small outdoor venue, Grand Saint-Jean, about 30 minutes north of Aix en Provence. The entire evening was a treat - from the pastoral setting, the wonderfully simple charcuterie before-hand to a vivid production for two singers and 13 musicians. The score was richly written and brilliantly performed by the Asko|Schönberg ensemble and young singers, Oliver Dunn (baritone) and Kitty Whately (mezzo). I am happy I saw this piece and will keep an eye on Mr. Mendonça.
NOTE: George Benjamin was commissioned by the Festival D’Aix to write WRITTEN ON SKIN, which premiered here last summer and which I saw in Amsterdam in November – it is a work I thoroughly adore and am working on getting to Philadelphia.