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Death in Venice

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)

Informationen Zum Werk

Opera in two acts
Libretto by Myfanwy Piper, based on Thomas Mann's „Tod in Venedig“
World premiere: 16th June 1973in Aldeburgh
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin: 19th March 2017

Recommended from 14 years on

In English language with German and English surtitles

3 hrs / 1 interval

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance



Markus Stenz

Stage Director

Graham Vick

Set design, Costume design

Stuart Nunn

Light design

Wolfgang Göbbel


Ron Howell

Chorus Master

Jeremy Bines

Gustav von Aschenbach

Ian Bostridge

Traveller / Elderly Fop / Old Gondolier / Hotel Manager / Hotel Barber / Leader of the Players / Voice of Dionysus

Seth Carico


Tai Oney

Strawberry Seller

Alexandra Hutton

Russian Mother / A Lace Seller

Flurina Stucki

French Girl / Newspaper Seller

Meechot Marrero

Danish Lady / Strolling Player

Samantha Britt

English Lady

Joanna Foote

Hotel Guest

Karis Tucker

French Mother

Michelle Daly

German Mother

Irene Roberts

Russian Nanny

Anna Buslidze

A Beggar Woman

Davia Bouley

Hotel Porter

Andrew Dickinson

First American

Michael Kim

A Glass Maker / Hotel Guest

Gideon Poppe

Gondolier / Strolling Player

Marwan Shamiyeh

Second American / Gondolier / Hotel Guest

Matthew Peña

A Polish Father / Young English Clerk in the travel bureau

Samuel Dale Johnson

Lido Boatman / Hotel Waiter

Timothy Newton

Ship’s Steward / German Father / Guide in Venice

Padraic Rowan

Russian Father / Priest

Matthew Cossack


Philipp Jekal


Rauand Taleb


Anthony Paul

The Polish mother

Lena Natus

Her daughters

Ebru Dilber

Her daughters

Mimi Nowatzki

The governess

Anne Römeth

About the performance

Benjamin Britten’s last opera was also his most personal. The work is extraordinary not simply for the autobiographical threads that are reflected in Thomas Mann’s ageing writer Gustav von Aschenbach; the circumstances surrounding the creation of the work are also inextricably linked to the themes explored. Looking to thwart what he saw as his impending death, Britten took refuge in composition, citing his need to finish the work as a pretext for putting off an urgent heart operation.

Britten expanded the musical theatre form into a panopticon of self-reflection that accumulates traditions and former experiences. The use of male sopranos – here for the role of Apollo – dates back to baroque opera but was a common feature of Britten’s early work, with parts being written for the great British countertenors Alfred Deller and James Bowman. The role of Gustav von Aschenbach was the largest created by Britten for his partner Peter Pears, with Aschenbach always at the heart of the proceedings. His casting of a bass to play Aschenbach’s various opponents, all threatening him with death and destruction, is rooted in the narrative tradition of Jacques Offenbach’s THE TALES OF HOFFMANN.

Following his staging of Verdi’s OTHELLO [1991], Wagner’s TRISTAN AND ISOLDE [2011] and a coproduction of MORNING AND EVENING [2016], this will be Graham Vick’s fourth production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Donald Runnicles continues his Britten cycle with DEATH IN VENICE, bringing the work back to the Deutsche Oper Berlin after an absence of 40 years. From 1958 onwards Benjamin Britten was an associate member of the Berlin Academy of Arts and from 1972 until his death in 1976 a corresponding member. The German premiere of DEATH IN VENICE took place at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1974.

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