Columns linked to Benjamin Britten

Excellent Singing and Staging in Death in Venice at the Royal ...

Sam Smith

Death in Venice of 1973 is Benjamin Britten’s final opera. Based on Thomas Mann’s eponymous novella of 1912, it tells of a writer Gustav von Aschenbach who becomes obsessed to the point of madness with a youth who he repeatedly sees while in Venice. Given that the pair never speak to each other, it might not feel like obvious dramatic material but it has spawned a classic film (starring Dirk Bogarde) as well as Britten’s own masterpiece. It is possible to see the...


A Staged Version of Britten’s War Requiem at the London Coliseum

Sam Smith

While most composers’ settings of the Catholic Church’s Requiem Mass were written to honour departed individuals, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is rather different. It was commissioned to be performed at the consecration of the newly built Coventry Cathedral in 1962, the old structure having been bombed during the Second World War. It was therefore designed to commemorate all lives lost in war, and, although circumstances prevented this from happening, it was planned for...