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Ballet of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor: Death in Venice
Music: Gustav Mahler
Choreography and concept: Valentina Turcu
Based on Thomas Mann’s eponymous novella
Production: Ballet of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor
Co-production: Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb
Premiere: 9 November 2018, Slovenian National Theatre Maribor Grand Hall
Thomas Mann termed his novella Death in Venice (1911) as a “tragedy of degradation”, a degradation shared by numerous aesthetes and modernist artist during fin de siècle, and rendered even more poignant today, in a debased world of reality shows and narcissistic hyperproduction of tweets and selfies, which – paradoxically – distance us from each other even more palpably.
How can a person we have never encountered before change our perception of ourselves so drastically? Or, according to the choreographer and the creative force behind the project, Valentina Turcu: “Loneliness is the greatest disease of our generation.” Gustav von Aschenbach, lonely and hermetically drawn to beauty like a moth to a flame, is indelibly present in each and every one of us, especially here and now, at a time when individuality merges with the collective fear of differences, with violence and control.
In radically investigating the contrasts in movement, the differences between the etheric elegance of Tadzio and the inner pessimistic turmoil of Gustav Aschenbach – an artist on a quest for beauty, internationally acknowledged choreographer Valentina Turcu aims to create “a perpetual movement of the soul”, that is, she seeks to illuminate the multifaceted aspects of an aged artist’s emotional odyssey – an artist worn out by the search for spiritual fulfilment in beauty, who has ended up on the dark side of life, dying a living death in a sinking city plagued by an unnamed epidemic.
A dramatic ballet featuring Gustav Mahler’s refined music, Death in Venice is a stage adaptation of Mann’s literary masterpiece that clearly outlines the undermined dignity of artists in our decadent world.
Valentina Turcu’s latest work paints a deeply sensitive portrayal of an unreconciled human torn asunder by the invisible forces of love, Eros, and the destructive Thanatos – chaotic forces that no one can escape.