Notes and Editorial Reviews
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Benjamin Britten’s last opera Death in Venice is based on the novella by Thomas Mann. It was first performed in England in 1973. The astringent score is marked by some haunting soundscapes of 'ambiguous Venice'. The boy Tadzio is portrayed by a silent dancer, gamelan-like percussion accompaniment. The music of the opera is precise, direct and movingly understated. Britten had been contemplating the novella for many years and began work in September 1970 with approaches to Piper and to Golo Mann, son of the author.
Because of agreements between Warner Brothers and the estate of Thomas Mann for the production of Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film, Britten was advised not to see the movie when it was released. According to Colin Graham, director of the first production of the opera, some colleagues of the composer who did see the film found the relationship between Tadzio and Aschenbach "too sentimental and salacious". This contributed to the decision that Tadzio and his family and friends would be portrayed by non-speaking dancers. Themes in the work of "formalism in art and the perilous dignity of the acclaimed artist" have been noted.
Marlin Miller, tenor – Gustav von Aschenbach; Scott Hendricks, baritone – Traveller and other roles;François Bittar, countertenor – Voice of Apollo; Allessandro Riga, dancer – Tadzio;
La Fenice Theatre Orchestra and Chorus; Bruno Bartoletti, conductor
DIRECTION & COSTUMES: Pierluigi Pizzi
CHOREOGRAPHY: Gheorghe Iancu
Recorded Live at Teatro La Fenice, Venice 2008
NTSC; All Regions
Running time 155 min.
Sung in English
Subtitles: Italian, German, French, Spanish
Works on This Recording
Death in Venice, Op. 88 by Benjamin Britten
Scott Hendricks (Baritone),
Marlin Miller (Tenor),
François Bittar (Countertenor)
Venice Teatro la Fenice Orchestra,
Venice Teatro la Fenice Chorus
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1973; England
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