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. (T. Mann Death in Venice) The famous novella Death in Venice by the great German writer and Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann was written in 1912 and tells the story of an established writer Aschenbach, who comes to Venice in the hopes of overcoming his writer’s block. Aschenbach, who is entirely committed to the higher realms of art in line with the aesthetic views of the early 20th century, spends his time at the Venice Lido, where he is mesmerized by the beauty of a Polish boy who is there with his family. This is a story about an artist and the nature of life, a psychological examination of the role of longing for inspiration and of the lust for life of the modern artist. Can another person, who appears out of nowhere, dramatically change one’s perception of oneself? In Mann’s own words: Solitude is the ultimate illness of our generation. Lonely and hermetic, Gustav von Aschenbach is present in all of us, as now more than ever individuals are swallowed up by the collective cholera of fear, conflict and control. The question, still relevant today, is: Where is the dignity of the artist in the times we live in? In the time of ever-present general and personal decadence, social and moral decay, the famous choreographer Valentina Turcu discusses the subject of the conflict between art and life, creating an emotional journey of an aging artist whose search for spiritual fulfillment leads him to ruin, reflecting the dark side of beauty in a decaying city gripped by an unnamed epidemic. This full-length ballet set to the music by Gustav Mahler is a new interpretation of Mann’s masterpiece. The choreographer and director used the fact that Mann knew the composer whose work captures human emotions so well, which in turn inspired Mann to base his protagonist on Mahler.
VALENTINA TURCU is a choreographer and ballet director born in Zagreb. It was her parents, famous ballet artists, who instilled the love of ballet in her. Turcu studied at the famous L’Ecole – atelier Rudra Béjart in Lausanne and has danced in many of Béjar’s ballets. She has spent most of her career as a dancer and choreographer at the Ballet of the Maribor Slovene National Theatre. Turcu is one of the most creative Slovenian dance artists and has received many awards for her dance and choreographic creations. Death in Venice is her first full-length ballet and her first world premiere to be staged at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.