David Sawer: Skin Deep

David Sawer Skin Deep
Skin Deep

David Sawer: Skin Deep

Year of composition:
Operetta in 3 acts
David Sawer
Armando Iannucci
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 repor
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)
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 Opera North (Leeds), Det Kongelige Teater (Copenhagen), Bregenzer Festspiele and Komische Oper (Berlin)
More Less


Skin Deep

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.”

World première

Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds (GB)
Opera North
Richard Farnes
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

Other works

Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now