Death in Venice

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Snape Maltings (Aldeburgh Festival)

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Snape Maltings (Aldeburgh Festival)

The 60th Aldeburgh Festival opened triumphantly with a brilliant production of Death in Venice.

Once controversial, Benja-min Britten's last opera can now be appreciated as a final declaration of his innermost feelings, with an imaginative use of all the resources of musical theatre.

The part of Aschenbach is in entrusted to Alan Oke. Both as a singer and as an actor, he gives a magnificent performance. Tireless despite great demands, he creates the vulnerable character of a distinguished man of letters in late middle age whose emotions can still boil. He does not do much, but his thoughts and reactions become masses of intense interest as he observes others and reflects on the mystery of himself.

The admiral baritone Peter Sidhom takes on a number of sinister roles all representing the pressures that eventually break down Aschenbach.

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For he knows there is a world that he can not enter. Silent, elegantly promen-ading by the water's edge, the cosmopolitan hotel guests are hardly aware of him. The children playing on the sand, dancers from the Nuremburg Ballet Theatre, scarcely noticed his presence either. Athletic and graceful, without a care, they are the image of an alternative world, with a distinctive musical style ringing out the difference.

Director Yoshi Oida and set designer Tom Schenk make the Maltings seem like the lagoon at Venice.

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