The opera Death in Venice tells of a widowed novelist, Gustav von Aschenbach, and his fateful meeting with the Polish boy Tadzio and his family while on holiday in Venice. Underlying Aschenbach's infatuation with the youth is the spread of cholera across the city.
The stage is gently raked. The translucent floor are underlit to express various areas of water: the sea, the lagoon and canals. Vertical painted translucent scrim screens glide across the playing area to create various degrees of enclosure including large sea vistas, the Lido's beach, the streets of Venice and interior rooms. Their movement creates smooth cinematic-like transitions between scenes.
clothing is true to the pre World War I era of the opera. The Citizens of
Venice have simple clothing; the Hotel Guests wear opulent society dress.
The roles of the Traveller, the Fop, the Old Gondolier, the Hotel Manager, the Barber and the Lead Strolling Player and are played by one baritone. He has the same moustache and glasses throughout; each of his costumes is a variation on one style.
colours become more and more muted, as Aschenbach's grasp on reality fades;
The colours of Tadzio and his mother's clothing become more intense as Aschenbach's
infatuation with the youth grows.
Aschenbach's clothes, hats, shoes and facial hair gradually take on more and more of the characteristics of the fop he despises.