Gustav Mahler - Valentina Turcu

Death in Venice

Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd wrote Thomas Mann, one of the greatest German writers and Nobel Prize winner in his novella Death in Venice.  The novella that acquired great popularity thanks to the cult Visconti movie from 1971 undoubtedly carries the author’s own pessimistic and destructive prophecy, his typical reflexivity and primarily the indefatigable quest for ideal beauty. All of the above is embodied in the main hero Gustav who is a kind of a literary amalgam of several ingenious personalities – Tchaikovsky, who allegedly infected himself with cholera having drunk a glass of unboiled water, Mahler and his infallible symphonic perfectionism and Thomas Mann himself.

Gustav von Aschenbach – a man of an agitated imagination, burdened by the imperative state of creation, an artist obsessed with perfection, in fear that his life is slipping away and that he lacks the time to realise everything he needs to do and fully express himself in a moment when he wishes to free himself from his writer`s block, travels to Venice, not knowing that this is his last journey. As a man entirely dedicated to the higher spheres of art inaccessible to the common mortal, becomes a man completely spellbound with the ethereal beauty of Tadzia, a noble young man who is spending holidays with his family in Venice.

Mann described his novella Death in Venice which he wrote in 1911 as a tragedy of disgrace/ Tragodie einer Entwurdigung which was actually the faith of many aesthetes and modern artists of the fin de siècle, who had become victims of fake morals and social criticism. Even today, it is still a stringent, dehumanising reality of the modern world, existing chauvinism and narcissistic hyper-production, where individuality sinks below the collective fear of an unnamed epidemic.

A full-length drama ballet, inwrought with refined subtle music of Gustav Mahler whose masterworks so perfectly express the final human emotions and states, is an entirely new dance interpretation of Mann’s literary skilfulness. The author through an imaginary atmosphere of the uninterrupted movement of the soul gently enters a complex universe of an emotional journey, a pulsating quiver of an unnoticeable inner power of Eros and the radical contrast contained in the literary model.

VALENTINA TURCU is an internationally acclaimed choreographer and director born in Zagreb, whose parents, famous ballet artists, instilled the love for ballet and theatre art when she was a child. Turcu graduated at the famous school of Maurice Béjart in Lausanne and by successfully appearing in numerous Béjart’s ballets throughout the world, she enriched her knowledge and craftsmanship. The greatest part of her career as a dancer and choreographer is related to the Ballet of the Slovene National Theatre in Maribor. She is one of the most creative Slovenian dance artists and a laureate of many international awards for her dance and choreographic creations. Death in Venice is the first full-length ballet and also the world premiere to be staged at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

Choreographed and directed by Valentina Turcu
Music by Gustav Mahler

A co-production with the Ballet of the Maribor Slovene National Theatre