The circus is coming to WNO

20 November 2023

Welsh National Opera are thrilled to announce its collaboration with Cardiff-based contemporary circus company NoFit State for the brand-new production of Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice. Bringing a powerful new reimagining of the opera to audiences across Wales and England, the production will mark the opera’s first performances in Wales.  

The opera’s source material, Thomas Mann’s 1911 novella Death in Venice, follows the story of the writer Gustav von Aschenbach who travels to Venice to attempt to cure his writer’s block. He comes across the young boy Tadzio, with whom he quickly becomes infatuated. In the text, as with the opera, Tadzio never says anything to Aschenbach, and so the relationship between them is unbalanced and one-sided. To best portray this in an opera, Benjamin Britten and his librettist Myfanwy Piper decided to cast Tadzio and members of his family as dancers, highlighting the distance between them and the writer and so they could be silent on stage.

In our new production the dancers have been cast as circus performers. NoFit State will lead on the circus direction and design while the esteemed director Firenza Guidi, brings silks, straps, and slack ropes to enhance and complement the scenes where the young boy, Tadzio, interacts with Aschenbach. Tadzio will be played by the circus and variety performer Antony César, winner of the Golden Buzzer on France’s version of Britain’s Got Talent, La France Incroyable Talent. Tadzio’s mother, governess, two sisters and friend Jaschiu will also be played by circus performers Diana Salles, Hanna Vilhelmiina Sinervo, Selma Hellmann and Riccardo Federico Saggese.

Following her five-star awarded production of The Makropulos Affair, Director Olivia Fuchs can’t wait to return to the Company to direct Death in Venice:

‘How exciting to be directing Death in Venice and to be working with the same creative team – Nicola Turner, Robbie Butler and Sam Sharples - as on The Makropulos Affair! I am delighted to be returning to WNO. And what a treat to collaborate with NoFit State, conductor Leo Hussain and artists Mark Le Brocq and Roderick Williams, two such intelligent and consummate performers. They will be joined by young aerial artist Antony César playing Tadzio and a strong ensemble of circus artists and singers, giving the wonderful WNO Chorus an opportunity to shine. I can’t wait to start rehearsals.’

Our brand-new production of Death in Venice opens at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on Thursday 7 March 2024, before touring to Llandudno, Southampton, Oxford, Bristol, and Birmingham 11 May 2024.