Opera Philadelphia presents Written on Skin

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6abc Loves the Arts. Karen Rogers reports during Action News Mornings on January 28, 2018. (WPVI)

Opera Philadelphia is kicking off the second half of its season with the Philadelphia premiere of an international sensation.

Written on Skin has been hailed as the century's most successful new opera. It debuted in France in 2012 and has played in nearly every major opera house in Europe. Now, Opera Philadelphia is staging a new production of the show here.

The story follows a wealthy French landowner who becomes enraged with his 14-year-old wife's infatuation with a young male artist.

"Agnes, this young girl, sees this boy and there's this curiosity sparked in her," explains Lauren Snouffer, who sings the part of Agnes in this passionate but violent love story set in 13th century Provence. "She kind of goes on a journey of self-discovery and rebellion and independence and, in the end, really claims her own life."

Playing the young wife marks Snouffer's Opera Philadelphia debut: "I'm really excited. I think everyone in the opera world talks about Opera Philadelphia."

Written on Skin is the creation of British composer George Benjamin. It's his first full-length opera and critics have called it a 21st-century masterpiece.

"It's really unlike anything I've seen or studied," says Snouffer. "For a contemporary opera, it's been to almost every major house in Europe, which is almost unheard of."

For Opera Philadelphia, award-winning director Will Kerley put a fresh take on the piece.

"He's really pushing us to work beyond what Opera stereotypically is," says Snouffer.

It's the first new staging of the opera in the U.S. and, Stouffer says, it's a feast for the eyes and ears. "There's bright blues and bright reds, bright greens, and gold leaf. The music and the story are so rich; I think audiences are going to love it," she adds.

Opera Philadelphia performs Written on Skin February 9-18 at the Academy of Music. For tickets & show times, visit The Arts in Philly.
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