The Royal Opera’s new production of Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice brings a dark realism to the story of a burnt-out writer obsessed with youth and desire while surrounded by pestilence, corruption and disease. David McVicar’s intensely atmospheric production features a spectacular set by Vicki Mortimer, which will bring Venice to life, complete with an authentic Venetian gondola.

Troubled writer Gustav von Aschenbach seeks inspiration in Venice’s beauty, guided by a Traveller who takes on a plethora of different roles, from an Elderly Fop to the leader of a Group of Players, from a Hotel Barber to the Voice of Dionysus. As plague threatens the city, Aschenbach becomes increasingly obsessed with a Polish boy staying at his hotel. Death in Venice is based on a novella by Thomas Mann, which also inspired the multi-award-winning film (1971) of the same name, starring Dirk Bogarde.

Death in Venice is the first of two Britten operas performed in the 2019/20 Season as part of The Royal Opera’s ongoing Britten cycle. The outstanding cast includes British tenor Mark Padmore as Aschenbach and Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley, who celebrates 30 years performing with The Royal Opera, as the Traveller. British countertenor Tim Mead sings the Voice of Apollo, and the opera will also feature a host of superb singers in smaller roles. Dancers will also feature, notably in the role of Tadziu, the boy who so fascinates Aschenbach.

Internationally renowned British conductor Mark Elder returns to The Royal Opera to conduct Britten’s final opera, an embodiment of the composer’s fascination with Venice. Elder will give a talk on the score in Insights: Mark Elder on the Music of Death in Venice on 6 November 2019 in the Clore Studio. The Insights programme provides talks, masterclasses, open rehearsals and a variety of backstage opportunities, and enables audience members to find out more about the world-class productions performed at the Royal Opera House.

Death in Venice opens on 21 November 2019, with subsequent performances on 26 and 30 November and 3 and 6 December 2019. The Royal Opera’s Britten cycle continues with The Turn of the Screw in the Linbury Theatre in June 2020.


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