Death in Venice – the play

Dame Barbara Hepworth, Three Forms, 1969
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By EDUARDO SINKEVISQUE*

Commentary on the staging, showing in São Paulo, by Vinicius Coimbra and Roberto Cordovani

A year or so ago, I talked to Roberto Cordovani about age, reaching maturity, old age, etc. Roberto told me that he would definitely do shows (this has been happening for a long time) in which he could essentially say what he wanted to say, think he had to say, say what was essential; according to his ethics.

This is how it happens in death in venice which, in addition to the discussion of homo-affective love, stages the debate about beauty, its socio-cultural, artistic, human models, “too human” in a time, today, in which the standard of beauty is established by social networks and by interventions, often surgical.

death in venice, a show that is more than pertinent, necessary, puts the viewer in front of the discussion about the beautiful in times when the ugly, the clumsy, seem to reign.

The action of the play takes place in Venice, as indicated in the name of the show, the same name as the book, whose unprecedented adaptation for the theater is signed by Vinicius Coimbra, who also directs the show, and Roberto Cordovani, who acts on stage, with Guilherme Cabral, in audiovisual projection, in the role of Tadzio, opposite Cordovani in the role of the German writer Gustav Von Aschenbach.

The international premiere (death in venice will make a career traveling in Brazil and abroad) was on April 21, at the new Teatro Paiol, in São Paulo.

Em death in venice, the writer Gustav Von Aschenbach (Roberto Cordovani) is in a creative crisis in his city Munich. This takes place in the early years of the XNUMXth century. Gustav decides to go on vacation to Venice.

Gustav Von Aschenbach is rigorous, obsessed with perfection and achieving ideal beauty in art.

Upon arriving in Venice, he stays in a luxurious hotel by the sea. He meets young Tadzio (Guilherme Cabral). The young man has a natural beauty that, in the eyes of the writer, exceeds all the parameters he had already thought of, which he had already defined in terms of artistic beauty, mainly. With the passage of time, Gustav to be observed, like a voyeur, Tadzio in his physical activities, in minimal clothes, like other young people on the beach, an unexpected passion is established in the heart of the writer.

The audiovisual projections, not just the ones in which Tadzio appears, but those of places in Venice, take the audience on a journey along with the protagonist of the show. They are not mere projections, as a background or to contextualize the action. Roberto Cordovani walks through them, interacts with them, interacting in the manner of the writer Gustav with Tadzio.

The show is beautiful, living up to the thematic discussion. Light, soundtrack, scenery and, mainly, costumes are very elegant. The direction found optimal solutions in a monologue where you don't have just one actor on the scene. The voices in off, whether of secondary characters, or when Gustav is thinking in silence, are examples of optimal solutions.

Roberto Cordovani draws a Gustav Von Aschenbach with all the nuances of an old man who, by loving, rejuvenates and who, seeing himself in this delirium and getting sick, grows older. This process of rejuvenating and aging the character is clear, which Roberto Cordovani's talent puts in flesh and blood and in scenic truth.

The passion for Tadzio, plus the plague spreading in Venice, led the writer Gustav to reflect on the tension between the artistic and personal life. Gustav Von Aschenbach experiences feelings that are also conflicting, such as fighting against the passage of time, understanding the decay of the body, and illness, understood, in the show, as a metaphor for a dying world.

Who, if not a mature, elderly, sick, lonely, perhaps frustrated man, would ask himself existential questions about beauty, which is not just physical, apparent beauty, but incorporeal beauty, of the soul? Gustav Von Aschenbach questions himself, as someone who questions life, the mute, criteria for beauty. His fascination with the issue focuses on the young Tadzio taking on proportions far beyond the carnal.

Roughly speaking, the beautiful in Plato (340 BC) is the ideal of perfection that can only be contemplated in its essence through a process of philosophical and cognitive evolution of the individual through reason, would provide knowledge of the harmonic truth of the Cosmos. Hence, it is called platonic passion, platonic, idealized love, which lives in the world of ideas and has not descended yet (almost never descends) to the world of empiricism.

For Aristotle (384 BC), the beautiful is the good, the useful, the splendor of order, inherent in man.

In the first years of the XNUMXth century, the time of the action of death in venice, Thomas Mann to write his novel, now adapted for the theater, uses biblical and Germanic stories, as well as ideas from Goethe, Nietzsche and Schopenauer.

For Goethe, for example, the beautiful is a manifestation of secret laws of nature, which, if they were not revealed to us through the beautiful, would remain eternally hidden. For Nietzsche, the beautiful in itself would be nothing more than a mirage or a deception, since it is a mere mirroring of what we take as beautiful or perfect, that is, a vanity of the species.

In Schopenauer, beauty has a metaphysical explanation. The knowledge of the beautiful rises above ordinary and scientific knowledge, since the latter has, on the objective side, the relative and fleeting phenomena of the principle of reason, and on the subjective side, the subject subordinated to the will. The knowledge of the beautiful consists, on the objective side, in Plato's eternal and archetypal ideas, the most adequate possible objectivation of the will, and on the subjective side, the pure and timeless subject of knowledge devoid of will and suffering.

Em death in venice, one sees the euphoria and the attempt to apprehend the sublimated beauty, desire and will, delirium; suffering and agony. Gustav Von Aschenbach, in the skin, flesh, intelligence and sensitivity of Roberto Cordovani, invites the viewer to reflect on beauty and on its projection in the human, to use Nietzsche's term again, "too human".

death in venice displaces those who watch the show to other standards of beauty that are not those of aesthetic procedures, not that of gyms, not the beauty standard of instagram filters.

*Eduardo Sinkevisque is a postdoctoral fellow in literary theory at the Institute of Language Studies (IEL) at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp).

Reference


death in venice
Adaptation of the novel by Thomas Mann and direction: Vinicius Coimbra.
Theatrical adaptation and structuring: Roberto Cordovani.
Cast: Roberto Cordovani and Guilherme Cabral.
Voices off: Debora Olivieri, Ruben Gabira, Vinicius Coimbra.
Soundtrack: Sacha Amback.
Scenario: Kerrys Aldalbalde.
Costume Design: Renaldo Machado.
Paiol Theater – Rua Amaral Gurgel, 164 / São Paulo-SP.
Until July 04th. Fridays and Saturdays at 21:00 pm; Sundays at 20:00 pm.


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