Death in Venice

Before it fades from the memory, I want to remind myself of the deep pleasure of seeing the brilliant and beautiful – brilliant in every way – production of Death in Venice, which we saw last night at Covent Garden. For my generation, Visconti’s 1971 film, set to music from Mahler’s third and fifth symphony, was one of the most powerful and, I now realise, pioneering depictions of the love and admiration of a much older man for a young and handsome adolescent – homerotic, of course, but unconsummated. Mark Padmore’s depiction of Gustav von Aschenbach’s love (or is it lust ?) is much more restrained than I remember the film being, but just as powerful, as the plague comes to Venice and he stays on, only for the hope of seeing Tadzio and the occasional glance in his direction: a masterly and wholly admirable performance, helped by the beauty of Tadzio’s dancing.

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