Thomas Mann / Gustav Mahler / Valentina Turcu

Death in Venice

Ballet performance in one part
In September 2018, the Hungarian State Opera made a guest appearance in Zagreb, and the performances there of Ferenc Erkel’s opera Hunyadi László and Ronald Hynd’s ballet The Merry Widow were two of the high points of the institution’s Carpathian Homeland Opera Tour. More than a year later, the time has come to invite our former hosts here to Budapest. The company of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb will likewise spend two nights at the Erkel Theatre.

The Ballet of the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, which last year celebrated the 140th anniversary of its founding, is the country’s oldest and largest ballet company. Led by Leonard Jakovina, their diverse repertoire ranges from classical and neoclassical choreographies to contemporary ballets. For this appearance, they are bringing their production Death in Venice to Budapest.

"Love is a phenomenon that breathes life into a Dead body."

"The Art is life of a higher level of awareness. The Art can make one profoundly happy, yet it can devour one with even greater swiftness. The Art cuts a vestige of imaginary and spiritual adventures on a face of its servant, and with time, it creates – even in a convent-like solitude of external existence – tenderness, refinement, a fretful weariness and curiosity, yet at the same time, it finds extremely difficult to provide a life full of dissolute lust and pleasure." (Thomas Mann)
  Thomas Mann said that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping us company and appointing himself as our guide. One must die to Life in order to become an utter Creator. These thoughts made a powerful impact on my personal decision to take this novel and interpret it through my own choreographic manuscript in the field of contemporary theatre. Detached from everything I have ever created in my previous ballets up to now, I felt that this piece takes a new, significant space in my heart. The novel had fascinated me and having read it several times, I have decided to follow my intuition. The reflections of what must be said through this masterpiece that was created at the beginning of the 20th century urged me on an analytical development of the theme and the creation of a multiphasic choreographic work that included the exploration of the musical and visual concepts, from the birth of the initial idea until the synthesis of all the components into a ballet work. Inspired by the psychology of the artist and human relationships in contemporary life, I made a decision to put the performance into the time that represents us today. Supporting my research on the living artistic experiences of both geniuses Thomas Mann and Gustav Mahler, I have challenged myself to find the key to discover unusual aspects of the physical and the meta-physical. Only dance art can express these in such a sensitive, essential and meaningful form. The thoughts that are penetrating Gustav’s mind and his yearning, vulnerable yet powerful inner eroticism are producing unexpected emotions that create his movements and the atmosphere of the performance.  Love is a phenomenon that breathes life into a Dead body. In life, we cannot control Passion and Death and as Mann would say, motus Animi continuus – a state in which one is unable to suppress the thrill of creation. Through emotions, I have turned my vision with passion and great diligence into movement of the lovely dancers whose souls have been pulsating with inspirational magnetism from the very beginning of this unusual movie-like ballet. I feel blessed to be able to share this Unique experience embodied by the generation of charismatic dancers of the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and I have the privilege to create with them the full-blooded Beauty that stands against the dehumanizing reality of contemporary world.  As artists, we are co-creators who are discovering, through our talents, a deep connection with the Universe of Art, Beauty, Love, Inspiration and Humanity, where each of us will leave a signature in the moment of Creation.  — VALENTINA TURCU

General cast

Gustav von Aschenbach
Takuya Sumitomo
Angel of Death
Guilherme Gameiro Alves
Andrea Schifano
Aschenbach's wife
Edina Pličanić
Kornél Pálinkó / Rieka Suzuki
Natalia Kosovac
Tadzio's mother
Milka Hribar Bartolović
Tadzio's sisters
Saya Ikegami / Mutsumi Matsuhisa / Asuka Maruo
Hotel manager
Drew Jackson
Russian woman
Iva Vitić Gameiro
The Russian
George Stanciu
The American
Simon Yoshida
French woman
Miruna Miciu
The Frenchman
Matheo Bourreau
English woman
Cristiana Rotolo
The Englishman
Adam Harris
German woman
Atina Tanović
The German
Bálint Rauscher


Choreography, direction, dramaturgy and music concept
Valentina Turcu
Set designer
Marko Japelj
Costume designer
Alan Hranitelj
Lighting designer
Aleksandar Čavlek
Video projections
Matjaž Mrak
Assistant choreographer
Anton Bogov
Assistant costume designer
Petra Pavičić
Ballet master
Milka Hribar Bartolović / Mihaela Devald
Head of music staff
Ljudmila Šumarova
Stage Manager
Snježana Marasović

June 5, 2018


2020. January 23., Thu, 19:00


Halál Velencében I Death in Venice