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Britten: Death In Venice [John Graham-Hall, Andrew Shore, Tim Mead] [Blu-ray] 
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Deborah Warner's beautiful and evocative production of Britten's final operatic masterpiece has been acclaimed as an ‘exquisitely achieved marriage of music, drama and design’ (The Independent). In Britten's luminous and compelling interpretation of Thomas Mann's classic novella, the ageing writer Gustav von Aschenbach's infatuation with the Polish boy Tadzio and his subsequent decline are portrayed in a ‘remarkable and harrowingly believable’ performance (The Guardian) by John Graham-Hall, who had
already won golden opinions for singing the role of Aschenbach at La Scala. The superb ENO chorus and orchestra are conducted by Edward Gardner, a long-standing champion of Britten's music. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true Surround Sound.
"Edward Gardner necessarily conducted the score as if he believed in every note of it; there is every reason to think that he did." (Seen and Heard International)
"The central performances are stunning. For two unbroken hours John Graham-Hall brilliantly holds the stage, utterly believable and with every phrase pellucidly clear. Complementing his heroic performance is an equally notable one by ENO stalwart Andrew Shore, who incarnates seven figures including the elderly fop, the barber, the hotel manager, and the commedia dell’arte clown, with vivid characterisation each time; counter-tenor Tim Mead's Voice of Apollo cuts through the opera like cold steel. A flawless evening." (The Independent)
"ENO's new music director Edward Gardner makes a welcome arrival at the Coliseum for this production of Britten's final opera. His reading combines finesse and nuance with dynamism, and makes for a magical performance of the score. All in all a great night for ENO, and for Britten." (The Stage)
"Everything else about the performance - Edward Gardner's crystalline orchestra, Andrew Shore in multiple guises, Tim Mead, Marcus Farnsworth, Anna Dennis, Peter van Hulle and the chorus on the periphery - is pitch-perfect in economy and clarity." (The Daily Telegraph)
" ... the glory of this unmissable ENO revival is that the honours are so obviously shared, and not even John Graham-Hall's remarkable Aschenbach manages to eclipse Edward Gardner's exemplary conducting, let alone Deborah Warner's compelling staging – worth the price of admission alone." (The Guardian)
CastJohn Graham-Hall (Gustav von Aschenbach)Andrew Shore (Traveller/Elderly Fop/Gondolier/Barber/Hotel Manager/Player/Dionysus)Tim Mead (Apollo)Sam Zaldivar (Tadzio)Laura Caldow (The Polish Mother)Mia Angelina Mather/Xhuliana Shehu (Her Two Daughters)Joyce Henderson (The Governess)Marcio Teixeira (Jaschiu, Tadzio’s friend)
Orchestra of the English National Opera; Edward GardnerStage Director: Deborah WarnerTelevision Director: Ross MacGibbon
Catalogue Number: OABD7141DDate of Performance: 2013Running Time: 153 minutesSound: Dolby Digital + 5.1 DTS / 24 bit LPCM / 5.1 DTS Master Audio HD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9Subtitles: EN, DE, FR, KOLabel: Opus Arte
English National Opera's production of Benjamin Britten's last opera, Death in Venice, premiered in 2007 and was recorded for DVD during its 2013 revival. It provides excellence in every area, thanks to an imaginative creative team, and exceptional conductor and a truly memorable protagonist. I ...welcome the ENO production and recommend it heartily as a most distinguished addition to the Britten videography. --IRR, June'14
This latest release, expertly filmed by Opus Arte, is arguably the best of all. No Other performance on DVD has presented the psychological dilemma posed by Thomas mann and Britten with such intensity. --Gramophone July'14
Above all, every colour, timbre and texture of this richly imagined score comes blazing through under Gardner's batin, from the urgent menace of the first act to the luminous devastation of the second. Performance ****Picture and Sound ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Aug'14
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There is an appearance by Pears (1:58:35 to 2:02:35) singing (and acting) the beautiful Phaedrus aria from scene 16 act II when he replaces Robert Gard - I gave the 3rd star for these 4 minutes.
There are no subtitles (even not in English).
I must say that I prefer to listen to the CD with the original cast, Pears included (and it does make a difference) and without cuts.
This was the absolute highlight of the UK's musical tribute to Lord Britten on the centenary of his birth. It's excellent.
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