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Picture a day like this is the fourth collaboration between George Benjamin and Martin Crimp, whose acclaimed partnership produced Written on Skin, Lessons in Love and Violence, and Into the Little Hill. The opera – “a kind of Alice in Wonderland, but for adults”, says Crimp – lasts just over an hour and is cast in seven scenes. It is scored for five voices (S-S-MS-CT-Bar) and twenty-two instrumentalists. It premiered at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2023, conducted by the composer.

Picture a day like this is a bittersweet fable of grief and renewal. Benjamin and Crimp tell the story of a Woman who has lost her child: if, before nightfall, she meets one truly happy person and cuts a button from their sleeve, her child will live again. In her search she meets a pair of lovers, a Composer and their Assistant, an Artisan, Collector, and, in a beautiful garden, the mysterious Zabelle.

This limited edition of the full score is one of only one hundred and fifty, presented in a cloth-bound hard cover. It is signed by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp and includes facsimile reproductions of pages from the manuscript and Benjamin’s sketches, and a photograph of Benjamin, Crimp and directors Daniel Jeanneteau and Marie-Christine Soma in rehearsal at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

‘Benjamin proves with this taut, sharp miniature that he is the finest opera composer of today…a work of depth of feeling, humanistic artistry and expressive rigor…a drama that is miraculously condensed.’
Süddeutsche Zeitung (Reinhard J. Brembeck) 9 July 2023

‘…spare, haunting, immediate…a fable of loss and anguish for our times… The whole has the slick perfection of a piece crafted specifically for exceptional performers…the score [is] deft and restrained, its occasional outbursts of passion all the more intense for the careful control of the rest…There is a ritualistic slowness to the movement, resembling an underwater memory or the trance-like dullness of bereavement…For Zabelle’s enchanted garden, video artist Hicham Berrada has created an ambivalent scene of blossoming chemical reactions — toxic and vibrant, sinister and fascinating…It is fiendishly clever…. [the opera] tackles huge subjects with daring economy of means…Its impact is unsettling...For all its beguiling beauty, its moments of dark wit and bitter social observation, Picture remains a voyage beyond all comfort zones.’
Financial Times (Shirley Apthorp) 7 July 2023

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