Death In Venice

Death in Venice

An opera in 2 Acts, 1973

Music by Benjamin Britten – Libretto by Myfanwy Piper, after Thomas Mann

Opéra National du Rhin – February 12 > March 2,  2021

« Ah, little Tadziù, we do not laugh like the others. Does your innocence keep you aloof, or do you look to me for guidance? » - Death in Venice, Act 2


Conductor, Jacques Lacombe

Staging, sets, costumes, Jean-Philippe Clarac & Olivier Delœuil

Lighting designer, scenographic collaborator, Christophe Pitoiset

Artistic collaborator, Lodie Kardouss

Graphic Design, Julien Roques

Video, Pascal Bourdet

Editing, Tim Buisson

Dramaturge, Luc Bourrousse

With Tobie Spence (Gustav von Aschenbach), Scott Hendricks (the Traveller, the Elderly Fop, the Old Gondolier, the Hotel Manager, the Hotel Barber, the Leader of the Players, the Voice of Dionysus), Jake Arditti (the Voice of Apollo), Peter Kirk (the Porter), Laurent Deleuil (English clerk in the travel bureau).


Opéra National du Rhin - New production.


Nowadays, in a city that might be Strasbourg. A recluse in a strange assisted living accommodation, a writer undergoes an inspiration crisis while attempting to add a few lines to his latest piece, an experimental autobiography mingled with literary impressions about Venice. Recurrently visited by odd and more or less fantasised figures, the artist in crisis is above all constantly manipulated by his cynical publisher, ready to do anything to  secure the nearly completed manuscript.

But the mature writer also has to face visions of his own mother, and of himself as a preadolescent. Fantasising about imaginary Venice(s), the author is soon caught in a no-exit narcissistic delirium preventing him to notice that all around him, in the city, an epidemic rages, causing turmoil among the inhabitants.

Having finally recaptured the child he was, and his ideal Venice, the writer, who failed to put a final full stop to his manuscript, decides to let himself die. He believes himself alone and forsaken by all, but will not die in vain: in a final epiphany, having perhaps overcome the epidemic, all the citizens of the town accompany him in a triumphal procession towards death, thus asserting how necessary literature is and, more broadly, how imperative is the presence of arts and artists in our cities —today more than ever.