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There are only a handful of recordings of Britten's last opera on DVD, and even fewer on Blu-ray. This lends a special appeal to our new release of Teatro Real's outstanding performance of Britten's haunting masterpiece in director Willy Decker's breathtaking production.

It was described by as "one of [Decker's] most brilliant stage works ... a remarkable technical feat, with smooth and dynamic transitions and a great sense of rhythm, and goes beyond the mere illustration of the plot, showing a deep understanding of the story. The result is a visually enticing show, full of powerful images and symbols that evolve organically as the drama unfolds."

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014)
2.110577 [DVD]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913–1976)
Death in Venice
Libretto by Myfanwy Piper
Based on Der Tod in Venedig by Thomas Mann

John Daszak, Tenor • Anthony Roth Costanzo, Countertenor
Leigh Melrose and Duncan Rock, Baritones
Tomasz Borczyk, Actor • Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra
Alejo Pérez, Conductor • Willy Decker, Stage Director

Adapted from Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, Death in Venice was Benjamin Britten’s last opera, the composer insisting on its completion while delaying badly needed heart surgery. The starkly simple narrative of a famous but failing novelist travelling to Venice to seek inspiration only to find unhealthy infatuation and deadly cholera, is given a chamber-like precision and clarity through Britten’s score, becoming a haunting drama filled with musical symbols, disquieting mystery and richly evocative atmospheres of Venice and its strange characters. Willy Decker’s Teatro Real production was described as ‘one of his most brilliant stage works… a remarkable technical feat.’ (

Also available in Blu-ray (NBD0076V)

About the Artists

Admired for his versatility, range and dramatic power, British tenor John Daszak (Gustav von Aschenbach) made his operatic debut at English National Opera as Števa (Jenůfa) after graduating from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music and Italy’s Accademia d’Arte Lirica. Now enjoying a vibrant international opera career, Daszak made his Teatro Real debut with the role of Gustav von Aschenbach (Death in Venice).

Baritone Leigh Melrose (The Traveller) has carved out a formidable reputation for the performance of new works and dramatic 20th-century repertoire. Highlights include the title role in Wozzeck with Zürich Opera and Fabio Luisi, Alberich (Das Rheingold) at the Ruhrtriennale with Teodor Currentzis, Friedrich (Das Liebesverbot) at the Teatro Real, and a number of world premieres including Dai Fujikura’s Solaris and Luca Francesconi’s Quartett at London's Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (The Voice of Apollo) began performing professionally at the age of 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, film and on Broadway. Costanzo is a Grand Finals Winner of The Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and won first prize in Operalia. He graduated from Princeton University where he has returned to teach, and he received his masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

Conductor Alejo Pérez has appeared at numerous opera houses around Europe, in the US and in his native Buenos Aires. At the Teatro Real, he led celebrated performances of Rienzi, Don Giovanni, Death in Venice, Golijov’s Ainadamar and Rihm’s Die Eroberung von Mexico, and worked closely with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid for concerts with Plácido Domingo, Teresa Berganza and Ian Bostridge.

Willy Decker gained international recognition directing successful world premieres such as Hans Werner’s Pollicino in Montepulciano, Antonio Bibalo’s Macbeth in Oslo and Aribert Reimann’s Das Scloß in Berlin in 1991. In 2008 he became the artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale Festival, which he opened in 2009 with a memorable production of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron. For the 2012/2013 season, his La Traviatia was programmed at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, Peter Grimes at the New National Opera Tokyo and Der Fliegende Holländer at the Teatro Regio in Torino.

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