Exoticism In Death In Venice

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Exoticism exists on a spectrum, from pure exoticism - the choice to represent or "other" an exotic a non-Western subject, to transcultural composing which is the result of the combination of styles without an intent to "other" an exotic subject (Lecture 2/22). Bizet's Carmen is an example of pure exoticism. The story was considered shocking at the time because its violation of the social and operatic norms while exoticsizing gypsies (Lecture 2/20). Carmen, a "rebellious cigarette factory worker who has been arrested," that seduces Don José, a soldier on duty (Frisch 170). Carmen entrances Don José and he abandons his post to follow her, but she leaves him for another man and due to his jealousy, he kills her (Frisch 170). Similarly, pure exoticism…show more content…
However, due to how the music and drama is written in this opera as exotic elements, Death in Venice is closer to pure exoticism. According to Locke, pure exoticism is "the process of evoking… a social milieu… that is not entirely imaginary and differs profoundly from the home culture in attitudes, customs, and morals (Locke 47)." Most importantly, the audience receiving the piece of work perceives it as different from their cultural expectations. The social norms during that time were that everyone was heterosexual, so homosexuality was hidden to avoid stigmatization (Taruskin 246). Britten at the time felt shame and guilt for being a homosexual because it was against the law in England at the time and was viewed as a mental disorder (Taruskin 246). Similar to Carmen in Carmen, Tadzio in Death in Venice represents the "other," but instead of representing "other" as a group of people, he represents otherness in regard to social norms. While the opera does not blatantly say that Tadzio is the representation of homosexual desire, it does imply this theme (Lecture 3/1). Overall, Tadzio is the representation of a non-Western norm that is emphasized through the use of Gamelan
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