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death in venice

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director ivo van hove
after thomas mann
duration n.n.b.
premiere 04 Apr 2019


Thomas Mann is thirty-six when he meets a young man during a holiday in Venice. The event inspires him to write one of his most famous works, Death in Venice. In it, writer Gus¬tav von Aschenbach falls in love with young Tadzio, who is spending his holiday at the Lido together with his mother. His fascination is so severe, he underestimates the danger of the cholera epidemic in the city. His intense and uncontrollable infatuation leads to his mental and physical downfall.

For this musical theatre production, Death in Venice is adapted by Ramsey Nasr. He doubles the situation from Thomas Mann’s novella. Nasr portrays an author who is going through a crisis. Secluded in his workroom, he creates a counterpart of himself: Von Aschenbach, the man he cannot or dares not be in his personal life.

New music is composed specially by Nico Muhly (1981). This shooting star of American music works with both classical artists and in the world of pop music. He composed three operas and wrote film scores (e.g. for The Reader). Additionally, the performance will include music from Thomas Mann’s era. The conductor, David Robertson, is an expert of Twentieth Century and contemporary music.

In the Netherlands, this unique collaboration between Internationaal Theater Amster¬dam and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will be performed exclusively at Theater Carré. After that, the performance will go on an international tour to Paris, London, Barcelona and Zagreb.


Ivo van Hove about Death in Venice

‘Thomas Mann called his most intimate and well-known novella ‘eine richtige Tragödie’. He claimed that nothing from the story had been made up. Mann describes the downfall of a successful writer who is freed, but gradually becomes obsessed by a startlingly beautiful underage boy. Despite his attempts to keep the fatal attraction to a minimum and cast it off, passionate infatuation descends on him like doom. As he gives in to the whirl of emotions, the plague breaks out in Venice. The writer becomes ill. Affected by the plague and confronted by who he really is, he dies in total loneliness. In Ramsey Nasr’s version, the tension between social expectations, or even demands, and personal desires is also a main theme.

Death in Venice is going to be a performance where music and theatre are equal. I’m thrilled about being able to take on this challenge together with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.’

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