Death in Venice ©Ricardo Figueira / Millennium Images, UK

Death in Venice

19 November6 December 2019
The performance lasts about 3 hours, including one interval.
Main Stage

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. Richard Farnes conducts Britten’s final opera, which returns to The Royal Opera for the first time since 1992.

Suitable for ages 12+

This production features adult themes

Approximate running times
Act I: 1 hour 30 minutes
Interval : 25 minutes
Act II: 1 hour 5 minutes
Sung in English with English surtitles

Generous philanthropic support from

Hamish and Sophie Forsyth, Charles Holloway, the Britten Syndicate and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

Young ROH is generously made possible by

The Bunting Family and Sir Simon Robey.

A co-production with:

Volksoper Wien



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.

At his hotel in Venice, Aschenbach is struck by the beauty of Tadzio, a Polish boy who is holidaying with his family. During the following days Aschenbach’s fascination with the boy grows: he watches him on the beach, and secretly follows him through the streets of Venice. Even when rumours of a plague in Venice reach Aschenbach, and a series of unsettling incidents unnerve him, his obsession with Tadzio prevents him from leaving.


CompanyThe Royal Opera

MusicBenjamin Britten

LibrettoMyfanwy Piper

DirectorDavid McVicar

DesignerVicki Mortimer

Lighting designerPaule Constable

ChoreographerLynne Page


There is lift access and step-free seating to most levels of the Main Stage auditorium, except the Orchestra Stalls, which are reached by a minimum of nine steps. There are more than 100 seats in the Stalls Circle, Balcony and Amphitheatre which are accessible without the need to negotiate steps. In addition, many seats in these areas and in the Donald Gordon Grand Tier and Orchestra Stalls are accessible by 10 steps or fewer. Find out more about accessing the Main Stage Auditorium.