Death, in Venice

If I have a beef with Britten’s Death in Venice it’s that it’s a bit cerebral and bloodless, at least as it has come down in the Aldeburgh-Glyndebourne-ENO performing tradition.  I think it’s fair to say that in its bloodlessness it mirrors the Thomas Mann novella (and indeed a lot of Mann’s other writing) but, for me, it’s a challenge to engage with the piece and, especially, with Gustav von Aschenbach.  So, it was with surprise and growing pleasure that I watched Pier Luigi Pizzi’s production for, appropriately enough, Venice’s La Fenice.  His take is bold and seems to centre less on Aschenbach’s relationshsip with the Polish boy, Tadziu, and more on the conflict between Dionysian and Apollonian ways of thinking and doing and I think it’s clear that Pizzi is a Dionysian.

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