The writer Gustav von Aschenbach is depressed and suffering from writer’s block. An encounter with a mysterious Traveller makes him decide to travel south to Venice to refresh his imagination.
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The unique resonance of Venice in 1913 is the setting for Britten’s intense and atmospheric opera about a burnt-out, middle-aged writer obsessed with youth while haunted by death. David McVicar’s major new production is the first of two Britten operas this Season, part of The Royal Opera’s ongoing Britten cycle, and features a strong contingent of British artists, headed by Mark Padmore as the troubled Aschenbach, with Gerald Finley in the multiple roles that persistently foreshadow mortality. This is a real ensemble piece, with many individualized roles and dance integral to the story, not least in the form of the young man who is the focus of Aschenbach’s disturbing desire. Mark Elder conducts Britten’s final opera, which returns to The Royal Opera for the first time since 1992.