Welsh National Opera - Death In Venice

 Despite having seen several, I still feel like I am new to the world of opera. The vast array of storytelling through song that has been updated, adapted, and changed for audiences over the decades means that what our parents saw and knew back in the day is interpreted in a whole new way today. 

Welsh National Opera are one of those Operatic companies that do just that. Push the boundaries of what it is to be an opera to create something that captivates audiences for so many different reasons. In this Spring season, WNO have chosen to perform Death In Venice amongst other shows and I was lucky enough to catch this innovative show when it came to the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. 

Penned by Benjamin Britten as his last opera in 1971, Death In Venice takes inspiration from the original Thomas Mann novella. It follows the take of a world renowned author (Gustav Von Ascenbach) who, whilst having a moment of writers block, books a holiday to Venice in order to get his creative juices flowing. However what he does not intend to happen is to build an infatuation on a young aristocrat named Tadzio. Set amongst the time of Cholera, this story of obsession, infatuation, and death is dramatic and intense to say the least. 

Having never heard a Britten show before, I was pleasantly surprised to hear it in English, having previously heard most operas in Italian. Having the language as English allows this opera to be a brilliant toe-dip into the genre of opera whilst also allowing the audience to not have to gaze at the Surtitle screen at the top of the stage. However the screen was handy in the moments of softness and sinceriety as the vocal talent of lead performer Mark Le Brocq was nothing short of phenomenal. For a character that never tends to exit stage, his stamina and vocal range was second to none. Adding his vocals to a chorus of brilliant WNO performers just enhanced his voice and gave you an almost cinematic sound that left you soaring in your seat. 

Tadzio and his family were played by a group of aerial performers from NoFit State Circus and spent the show silent yet telling their own story for the audience. You watched them soar around the stage in the same way that the singer's voices soared around the audience to create something quite remarkable. I was so impressed with the way the cast were able to stage acrobatics and complete them with precision and accuracy whilst creating music to our ears. It was nothing but cohesive and it honestly just seemed to work. 

Death In Venice was a true show of two halves. A gorgeous aerial dance show akin to Cirque Du Sole with an operatic soundtrack to whisk audience members away, you are pushed to believe that this show comes in at nearly three hours long. The time just soars by when you are engrossed in what is unfolding on stage. Welsh National Opera continue to push the boundaries of what makes an innovative and engaging opera, and I can truly say that their repertoire is nothing short of eclectic, engaging, and entertaining for all. 

Death In Venice is part of the Welsh National Opera Spring season and continues on a UK tour. For more info, please follow the link:https://wno.org.uk/

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