Marianne Crebassa Triumphs as Woman in the World Premiere of Benjamin and Crimp’s Picture a Day Live This at Festival d’Aix-enProvence

10 Jul 2023

Marianne Crebassa has earned tremendous acclaim for the “heart-rending directness and vitality” (Financial Times) in her “magnificently poignant” (Scene Web) performance as Woman in the world premiere of Sir George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s Picture a Day Like This at the 2023 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. On stage for every second of the 75-minute, one act opera, she “is incredibly emotionally accurate. …Her thundering voice pushes back the walls of the theatre in the strongest passages. Here she seems to have found the ideal amount of vibrato to maintain the accuracy of this score, which brooks no approximation. Moved to tears during the salutes, she is the main player in the success of this creation,” hails Olivier Delaunay in Olyrix.

The New York Times’ Joshua Barone agrees, writing that, “Crebassa is determined but aching, her resolute manner betrayed by tense vibrato or wide-eyed concern. …It’s through her that Benjamin, who also conducted the excellent players of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the pit, ties together his episodic score.”

Bachtrack’s David Karlin writes, “Marianne Crebassa explored the five stages of the human response to grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – with every corner of her voice. She didn’t need undue histrionics, nor did the voice ever degrade into harshness or shouting; rather, each mood was depicted by the shifting colour of the voice and her expert control over dynamics and rubato. …The vocal lines fit Crebassa like a glove and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra matched the vocal lines perfectly with an infinite variety of timbres and textures. The result was an intravenous injection of the emotions portrayed.”

Le Monde’s Renaud Machart applauds her, “vocal colours – highs and lows that are sonorous and dense, or subtly lightened – and the deep-rooted pain she expresses make her unforgettable in this tailor-made role.”

Picture a Day Like This is a co-commission and co-production of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House Covent  Garden, Opéra National du Rhin, Opéra Comique, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Oper Köln and Teatro di San Carlo. Composer Sir George Benjamin conducted the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the Daniel Jeanneteau and Marie-Christine Soma production. Marianne was joined by Anna Prohaska as Zabelle, Beate Mordal as Love 1/Composer, Cameron Shahbazi as Lover 2/Composer’s Assistant and John Brancy as Artisan/Collector.

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence writes: “An ordinary day. A terrible event. The death of her infant child sets in motion one woman’s search for a life-restoring miracle. All she needs to do – in the course of a single day – is find one genuinely happy human being. But when every encounter, however promising, ends in disappointment, she turns finally to the mysterious Zabelle, owner and creator of a magnificent garden. Eleven years after the historic success of Written on Skin, George Benjamin returns to the Festival with a new opera in one act: a universal tale with moving colours, where the flow of music follows the flow of life; an initiatory fable on human nature and self-discovery.