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Subject: Death in Venice
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 17 Nov 2017 20:41:52 -0500

text/plain (45 lines)

Harold C. Schonberg wrote:

>“Death in Venice” is the product of a master technician. The score is
cunningly dovetailed, and every action on stage is perfectly echoed in the
orchestra. There are recurrent motives of various kinds; there are certain
instruments associated with various characters; there is an underlying
feeling of menace and decay. In a way, “Death Venice” is a synthesis of
everything Britten has composed up to now..... Yet one wonders. With all
the craft that has gone into this opera, and into so much of Britten's
previous work, he still remains a singularly calculating, even
cold‐blooded, composer. It is hard to be moved by his crabbed melodic
lines; they go up and down, imitating emotions rather than being emotional
themselves. His settings often sound mannered and unnatural [....] "Death
in Venice” is a very serious work, but the score ends up as brilliant
background music. The plot takes over and supersedes everything else [....] It
may be that Britten through the years has been, deep within himself, a very
conservative composer who wanted to straddle the modern camp. Perhaps this
accounts for his synthetic idiom. Certainly the immense degree of technique
that he owns has seldom been matched by musical materials that have much
staying power. This is of course a personal impression, but it is
reinforced by the fact that very few of Britten's operas have ever achieved
real popularity. “Death in Venice” will be talked about; it will, thanks to
the ingenious production at the Metropolitan Opera, be admired by many. But
will it be a repertory opera? Has it staying power? I doubt it.


One of the few times where I mostly agree with Schonberg.

This opera is one of the thinnest, most superficial I've ever experienced,
both in the theatre and through listening to recordings.

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