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John Neumeier – J. S. Bach, Richard Wagner

Death in Venice

2 h 20 min, incl. interval (estimated duration, specified during the premiere week)
1.11.2024 – 23.11.2024
Main Stage
Price range
21–138 €
Age recommendation

The iconic novel as a touching ballet

Thomas Mann’s (1875–1955) famous short story about the author Aschenbach and his fascination with the young Tadzio, set in Venice plagued by cholera, garnered much attention as it was published in 1912. John Neumeier’s work portrays the author as a choreographer dedicated to his art. In Venice, he unravels both a hidden side of himself as well as pure love within. The ballet, which had its world premiere in Hamburg Ballet in 2003, features music by Bach and Wagner, played both live on piano on stage and from recordings.

You can enjoy every note as well as every step. The pas de deux’s for example – especially for the male couples – are very fine and polished jewels.

– Ballett-Journal

watch trailer

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Video: Hamburg Ballet


The renowned choreographer Gustav von Aschenbach begins work on a new ballet based on the Prussian King Frederick the Great. However, the artist’s fear of failure hampers his creativity. He finds himself distracted by chaotic memories of his poetic, impulsive deceased mother, while a court ballerina and the King haunt his imagination. Frustrated and exhausted, Aschenbach abandons his work, but an encounter with a mysterious stranger sparks his desire for travel. As he arrives in Venice, he meets a gondolier who seems oddly familiar. In the hotel lobby, Aschenbach is recognised by Venetian society, leaving him ill at ease. He is on the verge of leaving when he is captivated by the entrance of a beautiful young man, Tadzio.

On the Lido, Aschenbach observes Tadzio frolicking on the beach with his companions. The sun shifts his focus towards sensuality, and he is overwhelmed by Tadzio’s smile. Inspired by the young man’s presence, he choreographs a pas de deux about emotional love. Aschenbach falls asleep on the beach and has an erotic dream, waking up disturbed. In a barbershop, the barber reassures Aschenbach that one is only as old as they feel in their heart and mind. A street musician gives a vulgar performance in the hotel garden, as if echoing the cholera epidemic ravaging the city. The hotel guests fall ill – and soon die. Nevertheless, Aschenbach decides to stay in Venice. He forsakes his art and destroys his work. His choreography will remain forever unfinished. Aschenbach turns from art to life – and brings about his death in Venice.

Full synopsis and other background information can be found in the programme leaflet.

creative team

Choreography and Lighting Design
John Neumeier
J.S. Bach, Richard Wagner
Peter Schmidt
John Neumeier, Peter Schmidt

The production has been rented from Hamburg Ballet.

Photos Kiran West / Hamburg Ballet


Cast will be published later.

Cast will be published later.

listen to death in venice

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