Opera North’s Staging of Death in Venice

Yes, I did see the original production of Britten’s Death in Venice in 1975 and I can assure you that Opera North’s current staging (shared with Bregenz, Lille and Prague) is much superior. It gets closer to the heart of the work, the conflict between Apollo and Dionysus and between reason and chaos, because the images of fever, plague and disorder have a sharper profile than was perhaps acceptable in the early 1970s. The choreography was slimmer, more elegant, more reflective of classical beauty, than Ashton’s original. The text now seems less portentous and pretentious than I recall. This may have been because, while Peter Pears’ interpretation of Aschenbach was constrained and dignified, Alan Oke’s is despairing and feverish. Interesting how a work can mature when it is released from the role of its creators.