The Turn of the Screw
Opera in two acts with prologue
Libretto Myfanwy Piper, based on Henry James' short story of the same name
Music Benjamin Britten
New production Opéra national de Lorraine Nancy, April 7th 2021
Conductor Bas Wiegers, Lorraine National Opera Orchestra / Director Eva-Maria Höckmayr / Dramaturgy Mark Schachtsiek / Sets and Costumes Thilo Reuther / Video Ruth Stofer / Video and Costume Assistant Alexandra Costa Pinto / Lighting Cécile Giovansili-Vissière
Housekeeper Sarah-Jane Brandon
Peter Quint and Narrator Stuart Jackson
Miles Daniel Todd (Young singer from the Trinity Boys Choir)
Flora Shira Patchornik
Mrs. Grose Allison Cook
Miss Jessel Susanna Hurrell
Pianist Emmanuel Olivier
Little Flora Iseult Picard
Extras Erwan Demois, France Duval, Maël Saunier, Ydris Steinmetz et Aisan Taszhanova
It is a curious story... Summoned to a manor house in the English countryside to take care of two orphans, a governess has to cope with extraordinary phenomena: what happened to her predecessor and her lover? Where do the voices the children hear come from? What is this past that they seem never to be able to heal?
Infused with the writing of Henry James - the author of the short story that inspired it - The Turn of the Screw plunges us into a disturbing world where the concept of objective reality gradually dissolves. James's reader and Britten's spectator lead the enquiry, grasping the facts through the accounts of a mysterious narrator, a maid and children whom they are not sure they can trust and whose very existence they sometimes end up doubting. A sense of vertigo. Stage director Eva-Maria Höckmayr loves these labyrinthine works, the quicksand in which the characters struggle until they lose their footing, the slow decomposition of what we believed to be the truth.
As the twentieth century of music bids farewell to tonality, Britten keeps of the beaten track. In the aftermath of the Second World War, he formed the English Opera Group, which sought to rebuild the operatic arts with the economy of means implicit in a world in ruins. For The Turn of the Screw he composed music where harmony flirts with dissonance, just as ghosts mingle with the living on the misty shores of the Lake at Bly.
The Turn of the Screw has been recorded and will be broadcasted on ViàVosges TV and Qwest TV soon.