Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Britten - The Turn of the Screw / Bedford Field Davies Greagor Obata Schwetzinger Festpiele Stuttgart|
Actors: Lilian Watson, Helen Donath
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
A Riveting Production of Britten's Masterpiece of Horror
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 05/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Benjamin Britten's 1954 opera based on Henry James's spooky ghost story, 'The Turn of the Screw,' is acknowledged as one of his masterpieces. The libretto by Myfanwy Piper is as allusive, poetic and psychologically powerful as James's original. This production, from the 1990 Schwetzingen Festival was a co-production of Covent Garden and the Cologne Opera. The British cast includes Helen Field (Governess), Menai Davies (Mrs Grose), Richard Greager (Peter Quint), Phyllis Cannan (Miss Jessel), Machiko Obata (Flora), and Samuel Linay (Miles). The orchestra, conducted by Britten expert (and artistic director of Britten's own Aldeburgh Festival) Steuart Bedford, is the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (well, fifteen players from that group anyhow - Britten's orchestration for chamber orchestra is a miracle of colorful economy). The stage direction, by German Michael Hampe, is suitably eerie, catching the increasing tension ['the turn of the screw'] as the story unfolds. The set and costume design is not credited in the DVD's booklet, but requires mention because the black, gray and white colors that predominate are so apt to the shadowy ambience of the story. Finally, the direction for video and TV by Claus Viller is as effective as it is unobtrusive.The opera is in a prologue (sung by the tenor who later sings Peter Quint) and two acts comprising eight scenes each. Each scene is preceded by an orchestral interlude - a theme and fifteen variations. It tells of the arrival of a governess at an isolated English country house where her absent employer's niece and nephew and an elderly housekeeper live. She soon learns that the employer's butler and the children's former governess have both died but are now ghosts who haunt the estate, exerting a hidden but powerful and malevolent influence on the two children. The governess, good-hearted but barely more than an innocent herself, determines that she must protect the children and try to rid them of these evil influences. In the end that is accomplished, but only after young Miles has himself died. This simple bare-bones retelling of the story, of course, cannot relate the building terror of the story, nor the widening circles of its allusive text. I leave it to others to speculate about the psychological ramifications of the story; it works as a piece of theater alone without any need for psychologizing, although that can make it seem a richer, deeper work.Suffice it to say, I found this production to be extraordinarily effective in all departments: the singers are all wonderful, both as musicians and as actors; the direction by Bedford is taut and musical; the playing of the orchestra could not be bettered; the stage direction and visual effects are fairly straightforward (none of the Eurotrashing of the opera that has become so frightfully common in German productions) and dramatically telling. I shall come back to this DVD again and again.My highest recommendation.Scott Morrison"