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William Hedley
MusicWeb International, November 2019

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (NTSC) 2.110577
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0076V

Tadzio is played here by Tomasz Borczyk, an actor rather than a dancer. He is poised and beautiful… John Daszak, superb as Herod in the Salzburg Festival’s superlative staging of Salome, is just as convincing and satisfying as Aschenbach. There is nothing to complain about in the smaller parts.

There are many fine and beautiful things in this production, and it is musically satisfying. Britten devotees such as myself will want to see it and return to it, as its point of view on this most equivocal of operas, is a fascinating one. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Huntley Dent
Fanfare, May 2019

Conductor Alejo Pérez does well in extracting the score’s shifting colors, and the orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Real are highly commendable…

I recommend this video not just to listeners who already love the score—I’m not among them—but to anyone curious to see how a problem opera can be turned into genuine theater. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Allan Altman
American Record Guide, March 2019

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (NTSC) 2.110577
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0076V

Tenor John Daszak is an ideal Aschenbach, with unfailing purity of tone, elegance of phrasing, and clarity of diction. As an actor, he finds fine variety in the repetitive nature of the character’s befuddled longing. Baritone Leigh Melrose is magnificently menacing in the roles of Aschenbach’s mysterious guides (The Traveller, Elderly Fop, Old Gondolier, etc.). Melrose handles the various roles with aplomb, though he often drives his tone to harshness rather than letting Britten’s written notes delineate the characters. … In a piece of luxury casting, the top-tier countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the offstage Voice of Apollo. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Opera, February 2019

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (NTSC) 2.110577
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0076V

The orchestral playing is notable for its skill and refinement. © 2019 Opera




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, December 2018

This recording of Britten’s Death in Venice is pleasingly staged. The performers John Daszak and Leigh Melrose are excellent, and dancer Tomasz Borcyk is a brilliant Tadzio. © 2018 Pizzicato



Richard Fairman
Gramophone, December 2018

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (NTSC) 2.110577
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice [Opera] (Teatro Real, 2014) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0076V

John Daszak comes to the role of Aschenbach with more voice than most of his predecessors. He is dignified and unexaggerated in his portrayal, perhaps even a touch over-formal… Leigh Melrose, given the look of a satyr, offers vivid characterisations in the nemesis roles, though he has been encouraged to overplay the fop and, en travesti, the leader of the players. Anthony Roth Costanzo sings a suitably ethereal Apollo and Tomasz Borczyk, sporting a scallywag’s scarecrow haircut, is a native Polish Tadzio. © 2018 Gramophone  Read complete review on Gramophone



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2018

Surely this performance filmed December 17 / 19, 2014 at Teatro Real in Madrid, presents the work effectively. Video and audio are excellent… This is the dark side of Britten and opera, theater rather than opera. © 2018 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, October 2018

Conductor Alejo Pérez deftly leads the orchestra and chorus to bring Britten’s spare, bleak and brilliant score to life… © 2018 The Flip Side Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2018

Benjamin Britten wrote the opera Death in Venice when the subject of male homosexuality was taboo and was still criminalised by the judiciary in England. It was based on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, Death in Venice, turned into a libretto by Myfanwy Piper, and was intended as a ‘gift’ to his long-standing partner, Peter Pears, who would take the taxing tenor role of the central character, Gustav von Aschenbach. Britten was already in poor health when he began work on it in 1971, but had become critically ill when he completed it in 1973 and was too weak to see the first performance later that year. He was to die in December 1976. The story is basically very simple and surrounds the famous writer, Aschenbach, who, having come to a literary block in his life, seeks a holiday in Venice. It is there that he has to confront homosexual inclinations that overtake him when he sees a beautiful young boy, Tadzio, playing with others on the lido and he fantasises on a relationship he could have with him. Cholera breaks out in Venice and he could easily leave, but the young boy remains with his mother, two sisters and their Governess, until the last guests depart, leaving Aschenbach alone. Those who saw the original Aldeburgh production will recall the number of hotel guests and young boys was limited in number, and the scene changes were restricted by the limitations of the venue. This new production from Willy Decker, for the opera house in Madrid, goes in the opposite direction, the Venice hotel is large and well populated, and he has all the technical advantages of a modern stage apparatus. It is all put in place and used instead of the audience using their imagination, so that we now, for instance, have Aschenbach’s dream brought to life with a totally nude Tadizo showing himself to the ageing man and dancing with him. From a performance point of view it is one of the finest of the many I have seen, John Daszak an ideal Aschenbach with a greater vocal freedom than Pears had at his disposal, while Leigh Melrose—in the many different roles—is totally different to the originator, John Shirley-Quirk, but his version is equally valid. The large Teatro Real Orchestra is very good, with the young conductor, Alejo Perez, going much into the Britten idiom. Excellent sound and unfussy filming. Also available on Standard DVD 2.110577. © 2018 David’s Review Corner





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