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Britten’s last opera offers the dichotomy of Myfanwy Piper’s very word-heavy libretto against an almost transparent score; add the fact that compared with most operas nothing much happens, and producing the work becomes a hard nut to crack. Deborah Warner’s production for ENO manages to solve pretty much every problem she faces. The staging is simple and elegant; the action is generally kept to the front of the stage, the space behind used more for movement. Billowing curtains reveal a series of Venetian panoramas and simple colour-washed backdrops – the lighting by Jean Kalman is exquisite. John Graham-Hall is Aschenbach, whose mental, emotional and physical demise the work charts. His singing is clear, his diction crisp and he outlines every nuance of the role – it’s a subtle tour de force. Andrew Shore plays his multiple roles with aplomb, Tim Mead is an ethereal Apollo Sam Zaldivar a graceful Tadzio and Edward Gardener’s conducting underpins everything with refinement.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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