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Operas

Death in Venice

Death in Venice

Death in Venice, very famous Opera written by the English composer Benjamin Britten hasn't just inspired melodrama. Many of you might know the famous 1971 film by Luchino Visconti, who magically recreated the unsettling and decayed atmosphere of 1911 Venice and the Lido. The appearance of Dirk Bogarde interpreting the professor Gustav von Aschenbach is imprinted in our memory, together with the beautiful Silvana Mangano wearing refined clothes (the costumes are by the great Piero Tosi), who interprets Tadzio's mother. And, of course, the young Tadzio, played by Björn Andrésen. In Britten's work, the boy is interpreted by a dancer. Literature, music, cinema, ballet: all different forms of expression in the service of Art...

Synopsis Death in Venice

ACT I
Gustav von Aschenbach, is a spiritually exhausted author, walking through the streets of Munich. He speaks to a traveller who tells him great anecdotes on the lands in the south, encouraging the author to go traveling there. On the ship, von Aschenbach speaks to a man who assures he'll find everything he's looking for in Venice. When he arrives, he goes to a hotel, which has a view of the sea. Von Aschenbach watches a family pass by and he is struck by the beauty of the young son. He watches the family for a while learning they are Polish and the boy's name is Tadzio. He decides to visit the mountains for fresh air but when Tadzio passes looks at him for the first time, Von Aschenbach change his mind and while he keeps looking at the boy from his room, he acknowledges he's the reason he stays. At the beach, the author wants to approach the boy but he's missing the courage and he ends up whispering an unheard "I love you."

ACT II
Von Aschenbach tries to put the passion he feels for the boy into his writing. When he buys a German newspaper, he reads that there's cholera in Venice and German citizens are being urged to leave. When he sees the Polish family, he assumes that they don't know about the warnings and decides to follow them all day. When he reaches the travel bureau, where they are trying to help a crowd of travellers leave Venice, Von Aschenbach asks the reason of their departure and the clerk admits that Asiatic plague has hit Venice. Von Aschenbach wants to warn Tadzio's mother but when he finds her walking near him, he is unable to speak. He wonders what it might be like if everyone were to die and only he and Tadzio were left alive. Von Aschenbach is disturbed by a dream in which Apollo resists Dionysus' call to indulge his baser instincts. When he awakes, he realizes he can fall no further. The next day, he watches Tadzio and his friends play on the beach. The hotel barber dyes von Aschenbach's hair and applies makeup to his face. Von Aschenbach sees the Polish family and follows them again. When Tadzio hangs back and looks at von Aschenbach directly, he is excited and continues to follow the family until he is tired. The hotel manager arrange for the departure of the Polish family. Out on the beach, von Aschenbach sits in his chair. Tadzio is wrestling with his friend, but the game becomes rough and Tadzio is pushed into the sand. Von Aschenbach attempts to go to him but Tadzio slowly walks into the sea. When the boy turns with what looks like an inviting gesture to von Aschenbach, the man falls back into his chair, dead.

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