Parlando: The COC Blog

8/23/2010

Death in Venice at Aldeburgh

The production of Death in Venice that the COC is mounting this fall was first seen at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2007. The festival was founded by Benjamin Britten himself, and the opera premiered there in 1973. The production garnered virtually unanimous critical praise for its minimalist and evocative staging, deceptively simple direction, and emotional impact. Alan Oke, who played Aschenbach in that production and will be reprising his performance for the COC, also was highly acclaimed in that role. This will be my first time seeing Death in Venice, and this version promises to be an excellent introduction. Here are some snippets from the reviews!

From Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times:

"This [production], by the director Yoshi Oida, made simplicity a virtue. The set was just movable platforms atop a shallow pool of real water. Many images were stunning, as during the dream scene, when dancers lighted the stage with hand-held torches and surrounded the agonized Aschenbach.

The tenor Alan Oke gave an honorable, plaintive and volatile portrayal of Aschenbach."

And from Hugh Canning at the Sunday Times:

"Under Oida's direction, the action is seamless, a considerable feat in this space for a work that, on paper at least, calls for frequent scene changes. Oida demands of his audience that it makes for itself the imaginative leap from the Munich cemetery to the Hotel des Bains, on the Lido, and other Venetian locations. It's an approach that brings inestimable rewards."

And Andrew Clements of the Guardian:

"The effect is to direct the focus of the drama on to the protagonists, and especially on the Aschenbach of Alan Oke, who succeeds in what one thought was impossible - making one care about the fate of this self-obsessed character."

And Warwick Thompson for Bloomberg:

"The opera tackles pedophilia, artistic despair and emotional breakdown. When it's performed with as much flair as it is at the 60th Aldeburgh Festival—the place where it received its premiere in 1973—applause is richly justified for a production that is terrifying, honest and cathartic.

Japanese director Yoshi Oida brings a forensic sense of detachment to the story which, paradoxically, makes it all the more emotionally involving."

Photo Credit: © 2009 Bertrand Stofleth

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink


Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001