OPERA / Death in Venice: Glyndebourne Festival Opera

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The sinister traveller lures Gustav von Aschenbach through a single open door in the stagnant darkness. Somewhere beyond it is light - renewal, liberation, salvation. His voyage of self-discovery has begun. The triumph of Stephen Lawless's penetrating production of Benjamin Britten's last opera is that it truly succeeds where Colin Graham's recent Covent Garden staging signally failed - in isolating Aschenbach and taking us where Thomas Mann and Britten so boldly sought to take us: deep into his troubled psyche. We share his isolation, his confusion, his inhibition, we see the world as he sees it. From Tobias Hoheisel's ingenious Chinese box of a set, sliding panels open up windows on the prison that is Aschenbach's tidy mind while creating porticos through which all Venetian life elusively passes. The golden beach on which he first sets eyes on Tadzio is no more of a reality than the sulphurous smog, the decaying rubbish bags and corpses of a plague-infested city. Or the Gondoliers' fluorescent punt poles, or Michael Chance's white-suited, golden-headed Apollo. It is a show rich and busy in physical detail, but always at its still centre is Robert Tear's Aschenbach, his experience and artistry evident in every thoughtful inflection. And surrounding him, gnawing away at him, are the harbingers of death as personified in Alan Opie's now familiar but ever more sharply-drawn gallery of grotesques. Graeme Jenkins delivers an immediate, tensile reading of this remarkable score.

9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 22 July (0273 541111)

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