Universal Edition - David Sawer – Skin Deep

David Sawer

David Sawer
Skin Deep

Year of composition: 2005-2008
Subtitle: Operetta in 3 acts
Composer: David Sawer
Librettist: Armando Iannucci
Original Language: Englisch
Parts: Dr. Hermann Needlemeier, a plastic surgeon: baritone
Lania, his wife: soprano
Donna, his receptionist: mezzo-soprano
Elsa, his daughter: soprano
Robert, her boyfriend: tenor
Luke Pollock, a Hollywood actor: bass-baritone
Susannah Dangerfield, a news reporter: speaking role

The Chorus is devided into two in Act 1 & 2.
In Act 3 the chorus sings as one SATB choir (36 voices) with the following solo parts:
Donnalike: alto
Robertalike 1: bass
Robertalike 2: baritone
Choir: 1. & 2. Akt:
Klinikpersonal (12 Stimmen):
4 S, 2 A, 2 T, 2 Bar, 2 B
Dorfbewohner (24 Stimmen):
6 S, 6 A, 6 T, 6 B

3. Akt:
SATB (36 Stimmen)
Instrumentation: 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 2 1 - timp, perc(2), hp, pno/cel, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute (+picc)
2nd flute (+picc
alto fl)
1st oboe
2nd oboe (+c.a)
1st clarinet
2nd clarinet (+bass cl(Bb))
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon (+cbsn)
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
1st trumpet
2nd trumpet
1st trombone
2nd trombone
1st percussion
2nd percussion
piano (+cel)
violin I
violin II
Commissioned by: Commissioned by Opera North (Leeds),
Det Kongelige Teater (Copenhagen), Bregenzer Festspiele and Komische Oper (Berlin)
Duration: 150′
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Audio Excerpt

Skin Deep

World Première

Location: Leeds Grand Theatre Leeds / Great Britain
Date: 16.01.2009
Orchestra: Opera North
Choir: Chorus of Opera North
Conductor: Richard Farnes
Scenery: Richard Jones
Main Soloists: Geoffrey Dolton - Doktor Needlemeier, Janis Kelly - Lania, Heather Shipp - Donna, Amy Freston - Elsa, Andrew Tortise - Robert, Mark Stone - Luke Pollock, Gwendoline Christie - Susannah Dangerfield
Remarks: collaboration between Opera North, Komische Oper, Bregenzer Festspiele and Royal Danish Opera.

Work Introduction

David Sawer’s Skin Deep takes us on a journey of physical perfection, to a place where beauty is created: Dr Needlemeier’s Alpine Clinic – Putting right what nature got wrong. We meet his family, patients and even the odd Hollywood celebrity in a tale that charts desire, spans continents and, ultimately, asks the question: What is the real price of perfection?

The satirical libretto is by multiple-British Comedy Award winner Armando Iannucci.

The world première of Skin Deep was given by Opera North in Leeds, and was followed by performances in Copenhagen and Bregenz.

The Times wrote of Sawer’s score: “He commands a light touch, a terse rapidity, a witty scherzando manner that is Stravinskyan in its biting clarity, but aids him in emulating those masters of comic texture Rossini and Offenbach, whom he cites as models for Skin Deep.

Sawer uses tonality in a completely fresh way, while drawing freely on more acerbic, modernist sounds native to him. An atonal operetta would be a strange beast indeed, but Sawer has found a plausible stylistic compromise. … There is a seductiveness, a glamour, to some passages; others are hard-hitting; and the general spareness of the approach (its resemblance to minimalism is skin deep) proves highly effective.”

1 Ensemble that has played this work:

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