Benjamin Britten: Death In Venice

Tony Palmer

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Cat No: TPGZ124DVD

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Format Details:

Release Date:  05 April 2024

Label:  Tony Palmer Films

Packaging Type:  DVD Case

No of Units:  1

Barcode:  5056083210930

Genres:  Classical  Documentary  

  • Description

    Death in Venice was to be Britten's last full-length opera, first performed at Snape Concert Hall on June 16, 1973. Britten was already ill, suffering from a botched heart operation, and completing the work at all had clearly been a struggle. But he was determined to write an opera and a leading part specifically for his long-time lover and inspiration, Peter Pears. And it was Pears who gave the triumphant American premiere of the opera in October the following year at his own debut in the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Britten listened to the applause over the telephone at home in Suffolk.

    As the opera concerns a writer, Aschenbach, who is disillusioned, in despair and nearing death, it is tempting to conjecture that Britten identified himself with the protagonist of his opera. Britten himself, and later Pears, strenuously denied this. But there is a more curious parallel. As Pears himself says in Palmer's film A Time There Was. At the end of Death in Venice, Aschenbach asks an invisible companion, Phaedrus, what is it that he has spent his life searching for? Knowledge? A lost innocence? And must the pursuit of beauty, of love, lead only to chaos? All questions Ben constantly asked himself. That he should do so while singing part of this same great monologue from Act II is especially poignant since not long after he suffered a couple of strokes, which effectively ended his singing career.

  • Tracklisting

      Disc 1

      Side 1

      • 1. Documentary Film