Personalities | Thomas Mann | Modern Era | Opera

1875–1955, German

Mann was one of the most important German-speaking writers of the twentieth century, receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. In 1933 he settled in Switzerland, his anti-fascist writings having repeatedly attracted opprobrium. In 1936 he was stripped of his German citizenship, effective retrospectively from July 1933. He eventually went to America, where in 1940 he settled in to a community of German intellectuals in California, before returning to Europe. Although Mann’s name was added to the list of authors whose books were burned by the Nazis, he never lost his affinity for the German culture and language.

Britten chose Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig (‘Death in Venice’, 1912) as the subject for his final opera. The novella’s protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach, develops an obsession for a beautiful young boy of 13. The story was a means for the author to explore his own intuition about subjective beauty and his ‘celibate’ homoeroticism.

Introduction | Modern Era | Opera
Personalities | Giovanni Martinelli | Modern Era | Opera


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