Britten: Death in Venice (World Premiere Cast) - Pears, Shirley-Quirk, Bowman; Bedford. Aldeburgh, 1973
Listen to a Sample:
As a young composer, Berg's Wozzeck proved to be an important influence on Benjamin Britten. Although many of the themes of Wozzeck reappear in his operas, Britten did not embrace 12-tone technique. However, Death in Venice, Britten's last opera, seems to revisit Berg's masterpiece in a way that none of his operas had previously done. The theme of the alienated loner often returns in Britten operas, but Death in Venice delves deeper into the pathology of its protagonist in a way that none of his other operas do. Peter Pears gives a chilling performance as the anti-hero, Aschenbach. Pears' ability to create a character that is simultaneously likable and horrible is haunting. John Shirley-Quirk, tasked with having to play seven different characters, manages to create a unique voice and color for each. Countertenor James Bowman creates an ethereal and gender-ambiguous Apollo. The sound is quite good.