Britten's Endgame

Britten's Endgame


This poignant film by John Bridcut explores Benjamin Britten’s creativity in his later years when an unsuccessful heart operation left the insecure composer facing death. Despite his ill health he was determined to complete his final controversial opera. Death in Venice is based on Thomas Mann’s novella about a man who is obsessed by a stunningly beautiful boy he sees in Venice. Its themes - youth, mortality, liberation and repression - struck a special chord with Britten while his partner Peter Pears described it as “an evil opera”. Among the many composers, singers and musicians interviewed is David Hemmings, with whom Britten was infatuated when he was a young man.


Film-maker and writer John Bridcut explores the creativity of British composer Benjamin Britten in his twilight years. In defiance of medical advice, Britten raced to complete his final opera Death in Venice, tackling an edgy subject that resonated with his own life. He was left incapacitated and prematurely frail following a heart operation in 1973 after years of stress and illness, but rediscovered his creative urge to produce two late masterpieces. Featuring performances by mezzo Sarah Connolly, tenors John Graham-Hall and Allan Clayton and cellist Xavier Phillips among others.

Cast & Crew

Presenter John Bridcut
Director John Bridcut
Executive Producer Emma Tutty
Writer John Bridcut