Opera Scotland

Death in Venice 1973English Opera Group

Read more about the opera Death in Venice

The operatic component of the 1973 Edinburgh Festival took the form of three elements with little to link them. The schedule was dominated by a staging of Don Giovanni by Peter Ustinov, the elements of which promised well. The English Opera Group made its final appearance with the much-heralded masterpiece of Britten's final years, Death in Venice. The Hungarian State Opera and Ballet had previously visited Edinburgh in 1963, with a triple bill of Bartók's stage works. This time they brought just a pair of them, but compensated by introducing Blood Wedding, a decade-old piece by Szokolay derived from Lorca's play. Their programme as initially announced had also included Handel's Rodelinda, with Eva Marton, but this was dropped before the final programme was confirmed.

Britten's last opera was given its first performance at Aldeburgh in June 1973. The production then moved to Edinburgh and Covent Garden. In October 1974 it was performed at the Met. The requirement to fit a variety of theatres must have made it difficult to design, and it was pleasing to see how well the concept fitted the King's, with its stage so much smaller than the others visited on the tour. The composer was far too ill to conduct, or even to attend performances. At that stage it was, perhaps understandably, not easy to assess the overall quality of the work, but since his death, a number of stagings, including Scottish Opera's own version, have shown it to be an absorbing work of astonishingly high quality.

Performance Cast

Gustav von Aschenbach

Peter Pears

Traveller, Elderly Fop, Old Gondolier, etc

John Shirley-Quirk

Voice of Apollo

James Bowman

Polish Mother

Deanne Bergsma

Tadzio her son

Robert Huguenin

First Polish Daughter

Elizabeth Griffiths

Second Polish Daughter

Melanie Phillips

Polish Governess

Sheila Humphreys

Jaschiu Tadzio's friend

Nicholas Kirby

First Young Man on steamer

Stephen James Adams

Second Young Man

Michael Bauer

Third Young Man

Peter Leeming

Fourth Young Man

Keith Jones

Fifth Young Man

Robert Carpenter Turner

Sixth Young Man

Neville Williams

Ship's Steward

Stuart Harling

Hotel Porter

Thomas Edmonds

Lido Boatman

Michael Bauer

Hotel Waiter

Stuart Harling


Iris Saunders


Robert Carpenter Turner


Stephen James Adams


Sheila Brand

Beggar Woman

Anne Wilkens

Beggar Child

Mark Welford

Newspaper Seller

Alexandra Browning


Anne Conoley


Norman Lloyd-Miller


Arnost Kopecky

First Strolling Player

Neville Williams

Second Strolling Player

Penelope Mackay

English Clerk in Travel Bureau

Peter Leeming

French Mother

Anne Wilkens

French Daughter

Iris Saunders

Russian Mother

Alexandra Browning

First Russian Child

Angela Cox

Second Russian Child

Andris Plocis

Third Russian Child

Mark Sewell

Russian Nanny

Angela Vernon Bates

German Mother

Helen Attfield

German Father

Robert Carpenter Turner

German Son

Matthew Hawkins

First American

Stephen James Adams

Second American

Neville Williams

Jaschiu's Father

Peter Leeming

First Polish Child

Mark Welford

Second Polish Child

Ashley Wheater

Danish Lady

Penelope Mackay

English Lady

Sheila Brand

First Gondolier

Keith Jones

Second Gondolier

Ronald Murdock

Third Gondolier

Michael Bauer

First Tourist

Robin Bell

Second Tourist

Kathleen Smales

Third Tourist

Anna Vincent

Fourth Tourist

Wyndham Parfitt

First Venetian

Janice Hooper-Roe

Second Venetian

Wendy Pashley

Street Dancer

Sheila Humphreys

First Acrobat

James Graham

Second Acrobat

Victor Kravchenko

Performance DatesDeath in Venice 1973

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

4 Sep, 19.30 7 Sep, 19.30

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