The Arts

Death in Venice

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Reviewed by Paula Citron

Death in Venice
Canadian Opera Company
Composed by Benjamin Britten
Conducted by Steuart Bedford
Directed by Yoshi Oida
Starring Alan Oke, Peter Savage, William Towers and Adam Sergio (dancer)
Four Seasons Centre, Oct. 16 to Nov. 6, 2010

The COC’s production of Death in Venice is magnificent.

Composer Benjamin Britten and librettist Myfawny Piper based the opera on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella. In the story, famous novelist Gustav von Aschenbach, who is feeling burnt-out, goes to Venice to restore his creative juices. There he becomes obsessed by a young and beautiful Polish boy.

Director Yoshi Ouida’s provocatively staged production raises all sorts of questions, aided beautifully by choreographer Daniela Kurtz, the abstract set of Tom Schenk and the lovely period costumes of Richard Hudson.

Tenor Alan Oke as von Aschenbach, whose diction is impeccable, brought strength and torture to the role with his nuanced singing. Baritone Peter Savidge adapted himself superbly to all his different roles as the eminence gris. Countertenor William Towers brought a strong and beautiful voice to Apollo.

Conductor Steuart Bedford was brilliant in capturing the dynamics of Britten’s orchestrations.

Not to be missed.

Death in Venice continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Nov. 6.

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