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CHAN 10280M
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CHAN 10280
(multiple CD Set)
Opera - Death in Venice

Britten: Death in Venice

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2005

Originally recorded in 2004


City of London Sinfonia

Richard Hickox

Alan Opie

baritone - The Traveller, The Elderly Fop, The Old Gondolier, The Hotel Manager, The Hotel Barber, The Leader of the Players, The Voice of Dionysus

Michael Chance

counter-tenor - The Voice of Apollo

Philip Langridge

tenor - Gustav von Aschenbach

BBC Singers


Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Michael Common


Record Label



Total Time - 151:05
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Opera - Death in Venice

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Death in Venice, Op. 88

  An opera in two acts  
  Libretto by Myfanwy Piper based on the short story by Thomas Mann  
  Act I  
  Scene 1. Munich  
1 Aschenbach: 'My mind beats on' 5:39
  (He is suddenly aware of the Traveller. . .) -  
2 Aschenbach: 'Who's that?' 4:38
3 Aschenbach: 'I have always kept a close watch over my development' 1:45
  Scene 2. On the boat to Venice  
4 Youths: 'Hey there, hey there, you!' 6:52
5 Overture. Venice 2:35
  Scene 3. The journey to the Lido  
6 Aschenbach: 'Ah Serenissima!' 5:09
7 Aschenbach: 'Mysterious gondola' 1:30
  Scene 4. The first evening at the hotel  
8 Hotel Manager: 'We are delighted to greet the Signore' 2:52
9 Aschenbach: 'So I am led to Venice once again' 3:26
10 Hotel Guests: 'The Lido is so charming, is it not?' 3:40
11 Aschenbach: 'How does such beauty come about?' 1:35
  Scene 5. On the beach  
  Aschenbach and Hotel Guests stroll about -  
12 Aschenbach: 'The wind is from the West' 2:26
  (A group of children play at beach games. . .) -  
13 Strawberry Seller: 'Le bele fragole' 2:21
14 Aschenbach: 'Ah, how peaceful to contemplate the sea' 2:51
  (children's games with Tadzio as ringleader) -  
15 Chorus: 'Adziù, Adziù!' 3:30
16 Aschenbach: 'As one who strives to create beauty' 1:33
  Scene 6. The foiled departure  
  Aschenbach crosses to Venice in a gondola -  
17 Gondolier: 'Aou'! Stagando, aou'!' 4:48
18 Hotel Manager: 'Naturally Signore, I understand' 3:38
19 Hotel Porter: 'There you are, Signore, just in time' 1:07
20 Aschenbach: 'I am become like one of my early heroes' 1:51
21 Hotel Manager: 'A thousand apologies to the Signore' 3:43
  Scene 7. The Games of Apollo  
22 Chorus of Hotel Guests: 'Beneath a dazzling sky the sea. . .' 1:17
23 Chorus: 'No boy, but Phoebus of the golden hair' 1:57
24 Chorus: 'See where Hyacinthus plays' 2:46
25 Chorus: 'Phaedrus learned what beauty is' 2:02
26 Chorus: 'First, the race!' 0:51
27 Chorus: 'Try your skill' 0:49
28 Chorus: 'Young discobolus' 0:53
29 Chorus: 'Up and over' 1:08
30 Chorus: 'Measure to fight' 1:03
31 Aschenbach: 'The boy, Tadzio, shall inspire me' 4:09
  Act II  
32 [Orchestral introduction] 2:26
33 Aschenbach: 'So, it has come to this' 2:41
  Scene 8. The Hotel Barber's shop (i)  
34 Hotel Barber: 'Guardate, Signore' 2:32
  Scene 9. The pursuit  
  Aschenbach is crossing to Venice -  
35 Aschenbach: 'Do I detect a scent?' 4:56
  (Aschenbach begins to follow the family) -  
36 Aschenbach: 'And now I cannot let them out of sight' 2:31
37 Chorus: 'Kyrie eleison' 6:09
38 Aschenbach: 'Gustav von Aschenbach, what is this path you have taken?' 1:00
  Scene 10. The Strolling Players  
39 Hotel Porter: 'This way for the players, Signori!' 2:06
  (The Leader of the Players comes forward. . .) -  
40 Leader of the Players: 'La mia nonna always used to tell me' 2:14
41 Leader of the Players: 'Fiorir rose in mezo al giasso' 4:28
42 A Young English Clerk: 'One moment, if you please' 5:29
  Scene 11. The travel bureau  
  Scene 12. The Lady of the Pearls  
  Aschenbach walks up and down agitatedly -  
43 Aschenbach: 'So it is true, true, more fearful than I thought' 1:44
44 Aschenbach: 'So - I didn't speak!' 2:57
  Scene 13. The dream  
45 Voice of Dionysus: 'Receive the stranger god' 3:42
  Scene 14. The empty beach  
  Aschenbach slowly moves to his chair on the beach. . . -  
46 Aschenbach: 'Do what you will with me!' 2:05
  Scene 15. The Hotel Barber's shop (ii)  
47 Hotel Barber: 'Yes! a very wise decision, if I may say so' 2:31
  Scene 16. The last visit to Venice  
  Aschenbach, with his new appearance, is seen getting gaily into a gondola -  
48 Aschenbach: 'Hurrah for the Piazza' 4:35
49 Aschenbach: 'Does beauty lead to wisdom, Phaedrus?' 3:21
  Scene 17. The departure  
50 Hotel Manager: 'The wind still blows from the land' 4:08
  (The Hotel Manager watches Aschenbach go out to the deserted beach. . .) -  
51 Aschenbach: 'Ah, no!' 5:06
 Philip Langridge tenor - Gustav von Aschenbach
 Alan Opie baritone - The Traveller, The Elderly Fop, The Old Gondolier, The Hotel Manager, The Hotel Barber, The Leader of the Players, The Voice of Dionysus
 Michael Chance counter-tenor - The Voice of Apollo
 Richard Hickox
  21-24 July 2004  
No Notes Found.

"...flaws are hard to find anywhere in the production. Philip Langridge makes the lengthy central roles a riveting experience..." "his [Alan Opie] exceptional acting skills serve him well in differentiating his seven characters. Michael Chance, who still has one of the loveliest countertenor sounds to be heard, is well cast as the voice of Apollo..." "Richard Hickox shows his expertise in the precise imagining of the nuance and dramatic point of each musical gesture, as well as a compelling overall dramatic surge right up to the breathtaking resolution on the very last note. Each detail of balance and articulation means something in this opera, and each is brilliantly realised here."

Jon Alan Conrad

Conductor Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia last night gave an important, overwhelmingly powerful reading of Benjamin Brittens final opera… Philip Langridge… proved a subtler, more deeply involved and flexible interpreter than Peter Peers… on this evidence theres still no finer singer-actor in the world.
London Evening Standard

Although most of Britten’s major operas are established on the international circuit, ‘Death in Venice’ has yet to claim its rightful place. Hopefully this new recording in Richard Hickox’s Britten series…will help advance its cause. The performance is beautifully played and recorded, and in its all-important central role reunites Richard Hickox with Philip Langridge, so compelling in their earlier set of ‘Peter Grimes’.
Gramophone (Editor’s Choice)

The Chandos, recorded last summer [2004] in Blackheath Concert Halls, is certainly not lacking in depth. But it also has an incisive clarity matching Richard Hickox’s generally more urgent approach to expression and tempo, and the more anguished Aschenbachg of Philip Langridge… With the BBC Singers contributing many a vivid bit part and the City of London Sinfonia often outplaying the English Chamber Orchestra, this new version bids fair to become as irreplaceable as the old.
BBC Music Magazine ‘Opera Choice’

I doubt whether I shall ever hear Aschenbach sung with more telling, truthful or touching insight.
The Times

Langridge is astonishing: his voice sounds positively youthful (which Pears didn’t in 1974) and his diction is as immaculate as that of the role’s creator. He identifies movingly with the character of the ageing author whose flagging inspiration and sensory passions are, momentarily, revived by an encounter with a beautiful Polish youth. Alan Opie brings more variety to the multiple characters of Aschenbach’s nemesis that did John Shirley-Quirk in the Decca recording. This is one of Hickox’s finest achievements on disc, and the recorded sound is spectacular.
Sunday Times

The other dramatic element in the opera is the choral dances, and that is where Hickox’s account really comes into its own: he makes more sense of the sometimes four-square choral writing and the gamelan-inspired orchestral textures than any other performance I’ve heard. Though Pear’s version preserves its special place, this is now the one to hear.
The Guardian

In this recording, Britten’s final opera comes across as a dark drama of the soul rather than the senses, full of inner voices, doubts and unfulfilled desires. Philip Langridge sings Aschenbach with poise and agonised humanity, while Alan Opie is extremely eloquent in the multiple baritone roles. With the City of London Sinfonia and BBC Singers, Hickox delivers a crystalline account that trumps the composer’s own.
FT Magazine

…what astonishing sonorities Hickox drew from his 41 players; never, perhaps, before have Brittens new-found chord-spacings come over so vividly… [Aschenbach] was a role written for, even partly by Pears, with all his unique idiosyncracies, and one never imagined him being surpassed. Yet in his immaculate diction, vast range of expression and tone, and above all, in the integrity of his portrayal, Langridge surely comes close.
The Independent

Here the emphasis is on tonal beauty. Beautiful singing, beautiful playing, even a slight lingering over – a slight stretching out – of particularly beautiful passages. Yet there is full measure of drama expressed though exquisite diction. Langridge is regarded as the leading interpreter of Britten’s tenor music, and here he certainly lets us hear why… The orchestra plays magnificently; they sound rich, warm, smooth as silk., Tempos are a bit slower than Britten’s, without the composer’s drive – gentler and just a shade under Britten’s fullness and emotional grandeur. Recorded sound is broad and clear.
American Record Guide

It is superbly recorded in Chandos’s most dazzlingly ‘present’ and realistic sound and quite wonderfully conducted by Hickox, the most convinced and convincing of the second-generation Britten conductors, who gets world-class playing from the City of London Sinfonia (and especially its virtuoso wind and tuned-percussion soloists)…. A triumph for Langridge, Opie, Hickox and Chandos, without a doubt, and one of the truly memorable records of the year, I think.
International Record Review

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