The Turn of the Screw, ENO, English National Opera, October 2009Posted on 23 October 2009
David McVicar’s atmospheric production with dark lighting designed by Adam Silverman gives an excellent view of this disturbing story. The designs by Tanya McCallin, involving sliding walls and screens, with black costumes for everyone, are very effective, and the performers all conveyed the haunting nature of this opera. With thirteen musicians in the pit, under the direction of Charles Mackerras, the musical rendering could not be better — Mackerras conducted the original English production at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 1954, so he knows very well what Benjamin Britten intended.
The singers formed an excellent cast. Rebecca Evans was wonderful as the governess, portraying her sympathy and closeness to the boy, Miles, who was beautifully played by Charlie Manton. Ann Murray was suitably prosaic as Mrs. Grose the housekeeper, who sees no ghosts, and Nazan Fikret was the girl, Flora. Cheryl Barker, whom I recall in the main role of The Makropulos Case three years ago, sang an excellently ghostly Miss Jessel, and Michael Colvin sang lyrically as the insidious Peter Quint, and as the man in the Prologue.
The story is that Miss Jessel and Quint both died in mysterious circumstances some time before the events of the opera take place, yet they still haunt the children. Only when Miles finally rejects Quint is he cured, though he dies immediately after. It’s a disturbing story that one might wish to avoid, but this production shows what a superb opera it is, very well worth a visit.