In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period... See full summary »
Very well sung and a very good interesting production on the whole
Death in Venice is not my favourite Britten opera, partly because I am more familiar with works like Peter Grimes, Albert Herring and Turn of the Screw, but as with any Britten opera(that is if you like his music) it is worth a listen. I found this Glyndebourne production very good on the whole. Is it perfect? No, I personally found that the costumes and sets in the opening scenes could have been more imaginative, Alan Opie's Elderly Fop is like Truman Capote come back to life, and I wasn't entirely sure whether it worked. The sound quality is also a little boxy at this point, and some of the staging a little compact even on Glyndebourne's small stage. However, once Aschenbach is in Venice the production values largely improve and the sound gives more atmosphere. The orchestral playing is strong, and the conducting becomes more and more confident as the performance progresses. The staging has some interesting touches, the dancing is superb, the idea to have Tadzio not look directly as Aschenbach but look in his direction was a moving touch and Robert Tear's softer and more embarrassed exclamation of I love you was a nice change from it being the more insistent way. The performances are wonderful, Gerald Finley and Christopher Ventris would give better performances later on, Finley as Figaro and Oppenheimer and Ventris as Parsifal, but it was a pleasure to see them towards the start of their careers and seeing their potential before their rise to fame. Robert Tear gives a very involved and moving portrayal of Aschenbach, his voice not the most beautiful but nobly used. Michael Chance is a commanding Apollo and sings with a strong tone. But the production belongs to Alan Opie, who is in magisterial voice and gives each of his multiple roles a distinct personality, of note he is hilarious as the Traveller and he is the very definition of the Hotel Manager from Hell. All in all, well sung, interestingly staged and very good on the whole. The opening scenes and boxy sound are a little disappointing compared to the rest, but a vast majority of the production makes it a worthy one in regard to Britten's work. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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