Britten 100 - ENO's acclaimed production of 'Death in Venice' returns

Britten 100 - ENO's acclaimed production of 'Death in Venice' returns
English National Opera's classic production of Britten's Death in Venice - an opera exploring themes of obsession and unresolved love - returns this summer to celebrate the great British composer's centenary. Featuring mesmerising dance sequences by Kim Brandstrup, as well as a formidable cast of singers that include John Graham-Hall as Aschenbach, and the inimitable Andrew Shore, this is an occassion not to miss, and one that has seen an extraordinary press reaction. This revival also reunites award-winning director Deborah Warner with ENO Music Director Edward Gardner.

19:30, Friday 14 June
19:30, Tuesday 18 June
19:30, Friday 21 June
19:30, Monday 24 June
19:30, Wednesday 26 June


'Death in Venice emerges anew… yet with its rich layers of meaning fully intact.’
‘…the glory of this unmissable ENO revival is that the honours are so obviously shared, and not even John Graham-Hall's remarkable Aschenbach manages to eclipse Edward Gardner's exemplary conducting, let alone Deborah Warner's compelling staging – worth the price of admission alone. Warner has returned to stage her 2007 production, with Tom Pye's economical but fluid designs and Jean Kalman's atmospheric lighting combining to create an ever-changing set of memorable images, never more so than in the gondola scenes, for which Britten writes such simple yet sinister music. Kim Brandstrup's varied choreography, which centres on Sam Zaldivar's enigmatic Tadzio and gives the scenes on the beach their energy, is integral to the fluency of the whole conception, and Chloe Obolensky's belle époque costumes are pitch perfect without being overdone… Death in Venice emerges anew… yet with its rich layers of meaning fully intact.’
The Guardian (Martin Kettle), 17 June 2013
'I can’t imagine a more exquisitely achieved marriage of music, drama, and design'
‘Thomas Mann’s novella about the impossible love which springs in the breast of a blocked middle-aged writer as he watches a beautiful boy cavorting on the beach offered the perfect vehicle for Britten’s final opera.  This would be a summation of his art, and at the same time be a homage to his muse Peter Pears. Britten knew he was dying, and told his doctors that he would undergo the heart operation he needed provided they let him finish the opera first… Britten cast it in cinematic form as a sequence of short scenes, giving each its own musical colouring, and that is how Deborah Warner’s production works… I can’t imagine a more exquisitely achieved marriage of music, drama, and design… Lit by Jean Kalman, Tom Pye’s sets evoke the rain-swept steamer, the opulent hotel, and the infinite space stretching beyond the beach with a graceful simplicity… The central performances are stunning…. A flawless evening.’
The Independent (Michael Church), 17 June 2013

'it haunts and unsettles and moves me'
‘Written under the shadow of mortal illness, Death in Venice is Britten’s last operatic testament… But perhaps its lack of youthful energy and full-blooded tunefulness is part of its greatness too: there’s no attempt to sugar the pill or avoid the bitter truth. This isn’t light entertainment, but an attempt by an old man to look ultimate things in the face. At the same time, Britten was a master craftsman with an innate theatrical sense, and not such an egoist as to wilfully bore or repel his audience. Death in Venice may not be immediately appealing in the way that even Peter Grimes or Billy Budd are, yet its grip is firm and its vision focused… it haunts and unsettles and moves me. Every production must find a way to be true to its essential bleak austerity at the same time as honouring its melancholy beauty and wisdom. Deborah Warner’s staging, first seen in 2007, is exemplary in this respect; without romanticising Venice, it evokes all its clammy heat, shimmering light and watery allure, moving with cinematic fluency and never underlining the fable too emphatically.’
The Telegraph (Rupert Christiansen), 15 June 2013
'a masterpiece of contemporary theatrical production'
‘Austere, beautiful, heartbreaking, streaked with genius - that goes for both Benjamin Britten’s last opera Death in Venice and Deborah Warner’s remarkable production of it for ENO, returning all too briefly to the Coliseum, with a superb central performance. Besiege the box office for one of the four remaining performances if you want to see contemporary operatic art refined to its most personal and powerful… The evening is profoundly moving, and a masterpiece of contemporary theatrical production in Britten's centenary year.’
The Arts Desk (Ismene Brown), 16 June 2013

'dangerously seductive'
‘Its sparse elegance quickly pulls you in… The show’s physical attractions work their magic as before, with Tom Pye’s designs brilliantly conjuring beach and hotel from billowing drapes, bathing hut slats, a long horizon and a beckoning blue sky. Extra punch is added with the powerful performance of ENO regular John Graham-Hall… Conducting, Edward Gardner and the ENO orchestra expertly showcase Britten’s score, alternately shimmering and brittle and as dangerously seductive as anything Aschenbach found in Venice.’
The Times (Geoff Brown), 19 June 2013