Death in Venice – A dance drama inspired by Thomas Mann’s novel, the story of the successful, aging writer Gustav von Aschenbach, who during a stay in Venice finds himself drawn to a Polish boy. Through this reawakening he finds himself, and finally dies in the knowledge that the bonds of love are above any sort of career and social recognition. The literary source has inspired several works of art – Luchino Visconti’s iconic film, Benjamin Britten’s famous opera, and the ballet version choreographed by John Neumeier. Ondrej Šoth first showed his version of Death in Venice in Košice in 2014.
“It is not a stage version of the literary material, with the action shaped by dance and means of expression. Rather, it is its amended essence. The dance does not shape the story, but expresses the psychological states of the main character, the writer Gustav von Aschenbach. It is purely abstract, symbolic, almost surrealist theatre. It is closer to gymnastics and acrobatics than to ballet. Rather than having the temperament and speed that we associate with dance, it inclines towards staticness. There are no pirouettes. But there are slowed down, thoughtful movements, physically extremely demanding poses and exercises. The dancers stand, motionless, on a revolving turntable. Everything takes place in a murkiness that, in the first act in particular, evokes elements of black theatre, while the second act the sparingly lit back stage creates the background to a beach scene.
(by Gabriela Špalková, operaplus.cz)