The libretto by Martin Crimp is based on a legend of the troubadourGuillaume de Cabestanh; the story is also repeated in The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio. The action takes place in 12th-century Provence. The wealthy Protector pays the Boy to create and illustrate a manuscript about his family. The Boy and the Protector's wife Agnès are attracted to each other. The Protector murders the Boy and forces Agnès to eat the Boy's heart. Agnès commits suicide. 'Angels' comment throughout on the action from a modern-day perspective.
The success of theOPERA in performance has motivated the RoyalOPERA to commission a new full-length opera by Crimp and Benjamin, to be premiered in 2018. The title is not yet known.