Death in Venice


Britten Death in Venice opera to a libretto by Myfanwy Piper. Directed 2014 by Willy Decker at the Teatro Real. Stars John Daszak (Gustav von Aschenbach), Leigh Melrose (The Traveler/Elderly Fop/Old Gondolier/Hotel Manager/Hotel Barber/Leader of the Players/Voice of Dionysus), Tomasz Borczyk (Tadzio), Anthony Roth Costanzo (The Voice of Apollo), Duncan Rock (English Clerk/Venice Guide), Itxaro Mentxaka (Cadging), Vicente Ombuena (Concierge), Antonio Lozano (Crystal Merchant), Damián del Castillo (Waiter), Nuria García Arrés (Vendedora de Encaje), and Ruth Iniesta (Strawberry Seller/Newspaper Seller). Alejo Pérez conducts the Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Set design by Wolfgang Gussmann; costume design by Wolfgang Gussmann and Susana Mendoza; lighting design by Hans Toelstede; choreography by Athol Farmer; dramaturgy by Klaus Bertisch. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Richard Fairman, writing in the December 2018 Gramophone at page 116, condemns the recording of the orchestra as “rather wan and grey.” He notes that Decker puts Aschenbach kissing and dancing naked with Tadzio, which, Fairman states, would have horrified Britten. Fairman concludes that subject title is the weakest of the 3 HDVD versions available (in December 2018) of Death in Venice. Fairman prefers Deborah Warner’s 2013 version. Clive Paget in the March 2019 Opera News (56-57) comes to the exact opposite conclusion as Fairman. Paget states this Teatro Real Madrid version is “Essential viewing for all lovers of contemporary opera, . . . [which] stands far above the alternatives on disc.” He approves all the singers, Alejo Pérez’s “clear, steady reading of Britten’s austerely magical score”, and states that “The staging is a miracle of fluidity, perfectly captured in Roussillon’s sensitive, probing film directing.”

Wow — whom do you believe? Here's the official clip for the production (not for subject title disc) which looks encouraging. And François Roussillon is one of the best in the business at avoiding losers: