Death in Venice is an opera in two acts by Benjamin Britten, his last. The opera is based on the novella Death in Venice by Thomas Mann. Myfanwy Piper wrote the English libretto. It was first performed at Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh, England, on 16 June 1973.
The astringent score is marked by some haunting soundscapes of "ambiguous Venice". The boy Tadzio is portrayed by a silent dancer, to gamelan-like percussion accompaniment. The music of the opera is precise, direct and movingly understated.
Britten had been contemplating the novella for many years and began work in September 1970 with approaches to Piper and to Golo Mann, son of the author. Because of agreements between Warner Brothers and the estate of Thomas Mann for the production of Luchino Visconti's 1971 film, Britten was advised not to see the movie when it was released. According to Colin Graham, director of the first production of the opera, some colleagues of the composer who did see the film found the relationship between Tadzio and Aschenbach "too sentimental and salacious". This contributed to the decision that Tadzio and his family and friends would be portrayed by non-speaking dancers. Ian Bostridge has noted themes in the work of "formalism in art and the perilous dignity of the acclaimed artist".