Benjamin Britten

The Turn of the Screw

Book Now
18 October - 28 November 2014
Tour 2014

‘The ceremony of innocence is drowned.’ These words, taken from a poem by WB Yeats, are the central motif for Benjamin Britten’s opera. Two children are at the core of the story, Miles and Flora. Has their innocence been fatally corrupted? Have they become possessed by malign forces? Are they essentially evil?

Based on the story by Henry James, the opera draws on every nuance of the original’s insidious subtlety, its depiction of a strangely disturbed atmosphere, of hidden horrors and ambiguities. There are ghosts but are they real manifestations or have they been conjured up by the disturbed imagination of the governess who has been appointed to look after the children?

Twining itself throughout the work is the music that Britten writes for the children, deceptively simple and hauntingly strange and sinister. Nursery rhymes become incantations and the familiar words of psalms from the Bible are disturbingly distorted.

The screw turns and keeps turning, ever tighter…

Described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘one of Glyndebourne’s most provocative and accomplished productions’, The Turn of the Screw was first seen as part of Tour 2006 and is revived with a cast of rising stars including award-winning Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw in the role of the Governess and Jerwood Young Artist (2010) Anthony Gregory as Peter Quint.

Under 30s tickets are available for just £20 for the Friday 24 October performance at Glyndebourne. Find out how to become an under 30s member.

A revival of the 2006 Tour production

Sung in English with supertitles

The performance lasts approximately 2 hours, including one interval of 20 minutes.

Performed by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.

Dates & Times - The Turn of the Screw

Plymouth, Theatre Royal

Date Start Time Finish Time Ticket Price Ranges  
Friday 28 November 2014 7:15pm 9:15pm £12.70 - £50.20 Book Now

Setting: Bly, an English country house

Prologue

The Prologue introduces ‘a curious story, written in faded ink’, the personal account of a young governess, sent to instruct a boy and a girl in the country, long ago …

Act I

On her journey to Bly, the Governess ponders her position’s uncertainties: the orphaned children, the old housekeeper, and her instructions not to contact her charges’ only relative.

The children – Miles and Flora – together with the housekeeper, Mrs Grose, welcome the Governess; Mrs Grose assures her they are clever and good. The Governess feels at home. When she receives a letter from Miles’s school dismissing him as ‘an injury to his friends’, Mrs Grose’s protestations and the sight of the children playing reassure her; she decides to ignore it.

Enjoying a warm summer evening in the grounds, the Governess sees a figure on the tower whom she at first imagines to be the children’s relative. But it is not. She suspects it may be a madman or intruder.

As the children are playing indoors, the Governess sees the man again, gazing in at the window. Mrs Grose identifies him as Quint, the master’s former valet and Miles’s companion, who ‘made free’ with the Governess’s predecessor, Miss Jessel. Both are now dead. Horror-struck, the Governess fears that he has come back for Miles, and swears to protect the children. Mrs Grose offers her support.

During the children’s lesson, Miles sings a strange song; he asks the Governess if she likes it. 

Sitting by the lake with Flora, the Governess sees her staring at Miss Jessel, who has appeared on the other side. Sending Flora away, the Governess believes that both children are lost.

At night in the garden, Quint calls to Miles, and Miss Jessel to Flora. The Governess comes upon them as the ghosts disappear, and asks Miles what he is doing. ‘You see, I am bad,’ he answers.

Act II

Quint and Jessel converse, she accusing him of betrayal, he speaking of the friend he seeks. The Governess admits that she is lost in a labyrinth.

In the churchyard, the children play among the graves. The Governess tells Mrs Grose that they are complicit with Quint and Jessel. She has a disconcerting conversation with Miles and thinks he is challenging her to act.

In the schoolroom, the Governess finds Miss Jessel, who says to her that she cannot rest. She writes a letter to her employer telling him what has occurred. 

In Miles’s bedroom, she tells him that she has written to his guardian. Quint calls to him. The candle goes out; Miles says that it was he who extinguished it.

Quint’s voice is heard encouraging Miles to retrieve the letter. He complies.

During Miles’s piano practice, the Governess realises that Flora has slipped away – to meet, she suspects, Miss Jessel. She and Mrs Grose go in search of her. 

At the lake, the Governess accuses Flora of seeing Miss Jessel, who remains invisible to Mrs Grose. Flora denies it, and Mrs Grose leads her away. The Governess fears she has lost the housekeeper’s support.

After a horrendous night with Flora, Mrs Grose prepares to remove her; she also informs the Governess that Miles has stolen the letter. 

The Governess confronts Miles. Quint – at first unseen, then visible – warns him to remain silent. She forces Miles to name who made him take the letter. He collapses in the Governess’s arms. Realising he is dead, she sings the strange song he once sang to her.   

George Hall

Creative Team

Conductor Leo McFall
Director Jonathan Kent
Revival Director Francesca Gilpin
Designer Paul Brown
Lighting Designer Mark Henderson

Cast includes

Prologue/Peter Quint Anthony Gregory
Governess Natalya Romaniw
Mrs Grose Anne Mason
Miss Jessel Miranda Keys

The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra

Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Governess (Natalya Romaniw). © Tristram Kenton
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little), Flora (Louise Moseley) and Mrs Grose (Anne Mason).
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little) and Governess (Natalya Romaniw). © Tristram Kenton
Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little),  Peter Quint (Anthony Gregory) and Flora (Louise Moseley). © Tristram Kenton
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Peter Quint (Anthony Gregory). © Tristram Kenton
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Miss Jessel (Miranda Keys) and Peter Quint (Anthony Gregory). © Tristram Kenton
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Governess (Natalya Romaniw) and Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little). © Tristram Kenton
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Peter Quint (Anthony Gregory), Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little) and Governess (Natal
Glyndebourne Tour 2014. The Turn of the Screw. Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little) and Governess (Natalya Romaniw). © Tristram Kenton

'A masterpiece, brilliantly realised.'
Daily Mail
 

‘Revived by Francesca Gilpin, Jonathan Kent’s production of The Turn of the Screw is as crisp and disciplined as it was in 2006. ...The children, pure-voiced, vicious and unknowable, are outstanding.’
The Times
 

‘Anthony Gregory’s Quint, younger and handsomer than most, sounds disquietingly beautiful, which makes him very creepy indeed. ...The children, Thomas Delgado-Little as Miles and Louise Moseley as Flora, are utterly convincing, and rarely, I suspect, have been bettered.'
The Guardian

'Kent’s 2006 production is no stranger to the Glyndebourne stage, but it still makes a fresh impact,' 
Daily Telegraph
 

'Jonathan Kent's peerless production of Britten's ghost opera, impeccably revived'
What's on Stage

‘Leo McFall is the kind of up-and-coming young conductor whom Glyndebourne has always been keen to encourage, and on this showing he is indeed one to watch'
MusicOMH

Comments

3 days after seeing it I bought a standing ticket and saw it again. That says it all.

What a wonderful few hours, the set was amazing and the cast and orchestra spun an atmosphere of tension and menace. The children were outstanding and the performance that Quent and Miss Jessel gave were so very convincing. Wonderful voices and wonderful Glyndebourne.

Wow! Just a knock out. The sets, lighting, the direction and, of course, the singers! And that final 'malo, malo' by the governess reduced us to tears. It's a ghost story, but it is exposed by the humanity of the music, and that is what really touched the heart. Thank you!

The show was so atmospheric, the set was amazing and the cast and orchestra outstanding. The cast held us spell bound and credit must go to Flora and Miles whilst Miss Jessel and Quint were convincingly sinister and sung beautifully. Love the whole Glyndebourne experience.

21 October: a meticulous performance, superb casting and staging in contrast to the experience in the interval and at the end of the performance.
Cold, with a strong wind blowing,lack of seating in public areas and the sparsity of information on what was going on. Plenty of stewards but little direction unless directly asked for. The shuttle arrangements from and to Lewes station were to say the least chaotic, long waits for what appeared to be one coach going back and forward transporting vast numbers of people. A broadcast announcement at the end giving the time of the last departure failed to give any information as to how to get to the area to board. Since being dropped off in the car park, a sign simply saying 'this way for the shuttle to Lewes station' in the foyer would have avoided confusion. The lighting on the path to front of house, whilst atmospheric, is not adequate on a dark inclement evening.
We feel Glyndebourne is best visited in summer for a completely fulfilling experience.

Stunning, as always.
So glad you now have surtitles for English language works - those of us with less-than-perfect hearing find it of great benefit.

Turn of the screw" - other worldly - I was transfixed by this work - my ears attentive to every not - the minimal score was so superbly conducted the pauses and silence were echoed by suburb muscianship and sining a truly mesmorising experience. Everyone should experience Britten its and art form in the most modern of senses.

I am a great lover of Britten's works, but I had never seen "The Turn of the Screw". What an omission!! This was a brilliant production, with excellent singing and playing, simple and adaptable staging, and a hugely compelling atmosphere. Britten's music built up the tension through the production and at the end, my friend and I were left stunned and speechless. A fantastic evening! I have been to most of this year's summer productions at Glyndebourne and in previous years to one or two summer and autumn productions. I have rarely been disappointed and will continue to attend in future years

The singing and playing in "The turn of the screw" was superb.

The whole visit to Glyndebourne was just wonderful and I hope to
repeat it in 2015

Just Wonderful, loved it. Terrific orchestra, beautiful singing and such terrific and clever staging made it yet anothe Glyndebourne night to remember

A splendid production which held my attention from beginning to end. The production allowed the story to flow with a magnificent ending. Have seen this particular production before and trust Glyndebourne will not feel the need to change it. The singing and conducting also allowed the tension to build in a slow relentless way - Well done; am looking forward to seeing it again in a few years time.

The last of the run at Glyndebourne could well be the best performance I have ever heard of this my favourite Britten work. Bodes well for the rest of the tour. The themes have been rattling around in my head ever since even though I also heard the last performances of the Mozart and Verdi.

When I got my free program a few weeks ago I was most impressed by the depiction of Miss Jessel on the cover.

I became less impressed when I learned it was actually Violetta. But I splashed out £75 on a really iconic Violettta from another young artist Hester Gingles. I hope Glyndebourne will showcase some more of her work.

A really superb production made even more interesting by pre performance talk. An opera which leaves you thinking days after!!

I felt emotionally drained at the end of the performance on the 21st, but drove home rejoicing that I had been able to see such a superb production of The Turn of the Screw. The unrelenting build up of tension wonderfully executed by singers and orchestra alike all contributed towards a very memorable evening. Thank you to everyone involved.

The whole production had come on by leaps and bounds since my first so much less satisfactory encounter with it some time ago. Now set, lighting and drama were hugely developed, the stage picture constantly inventive and visually stunning, the atmosphere so much more sinister and the evil intentions of Quint and Jessel, spine-chillingly clear. The singing and the orchestral playing could not be faulted and Miles and Flora were easily the best portrayals of the juvenile roles that I have ever seen . A wonderful evening of opera before an audience that hardly dared to breath...

Superb production. But it was interrupted and ruined by the bad behaviour of the audience. We had expensive seats only to find giggling and wriggling teenagers right in front of us. To our right were other (much older) members of the audience constantly rustling sweet wrappers and then getting up and leaving/arriving late after the interval. It was like Piccadilly Circus. What a shame.

Intelligent, very positive and thought provoking comment lost because of failure of your CAPTCHA filter. Suggest you fix this.

I also saw the ENO production many years ago, which was very atmospheric, as was this one, very tense. Excellent singing & acting by all the cast, & wonderful orchestral accompaniment, really added greatly to the enjoyment. The scenery was very clever & adaptable to changing situations. I love Britten's operas, they stretch one emotionally, always thought provoking, & full of drama. I hope you do one next year.

Bone chilling performances from Quint and the ghostly governess. However the purity of voice from both Miles (Thomas Delgado-Little) and Flora (Louise Moseley) was mesmerising. Bravo Glyndebourne for casting such young talent.

Like Richard and Elizabeth, I saw this opera at the ENO 30+ years ago and have seen a performance on the TV since then. This offering was stunning as only Glyndebourne can do "stunning". Lovely singing, atmospheric set and the playing reminded me how beautiful Britten's orchestration is.

This ranks alongside Opera North's Peter Grimes as one the finest productions of Britten I've seen. The singing was as intense as the staging was inventive. I was gripped from start to finish.

What a pity the company dos'nt come further north!
The Lowery in Salford has a wonderful auditorium & technical stage facilities second to none.
A loyal audience only gets to see Opera Norh once a year if we're lucky.
It really does look like a case of North-South divide.
Only the well-heeled & well connected can manage to enjoy the Glyndebourne Festival, standing tickets notwithstanding!
So come on Touring Company, give opera-lovers north of Norwich a chance to experience your repertoire
Thank you.

stunning production of my favourite opera by Britten.
it was the first time i have seen it live and i was thrilled it had a great audience at glyndebourne .opera is alive and well in this country.
the singing was first rate and the cast excellent.
orchestra was marvellous with excellent playing from all concerned , especially the harpist. such a difficult score and being a musician myself , i was very appreciative of the work that has gone into the rehearsals.
heart breaking ending , i was an emotional wreck !
the very nice lady on the door asked me if i had enjoyed it , but i could not get my words out too well with my face in my handkerchief !
bar staff were friendly and polite and parking was a breeze.

A superb production in every respect performed beautifully.

Excellent production; strong cast. Appropriately chilling presentation of plot

A spellbinding performance, with an excellent cast. Leo McFall brought out thrilling sounds and subtleties from the orchestra and singers. It made for a most memorable evening.

I was spellbound by this production. The voices, the setting, the orchestra were all superb. I found it enthralling.

Superb production of "Turn of the Screw" - menacing and chilling, with outstanding singing and orchestral playing: Britten and Glyndebourne opera at their best.

The Turn of the Screw is not my favourite opera having seen it thirty years ago at the ENO but I thought the production and singing were excellent. The experience made me have second thoughts about it and I found it very compelling. It's also a long while since we were at Glyndbourne but we are determined to go again next year.

This compelling production is the latest of a brilliant Glyndebourne run of the serious Britten operas.
What was memorable about this production of The Turn of the Screw was how the tension built and built from start to finish, without any let off. Somebody was working very hard under the revolving stages pulling the various chests, christmas trees and desks around. Whoever it was, the result was an uninterrupted flow and a grippingly haunting production.

The rather convoluted English of the libretto necessitated the surtitles. The diction was impeccable. From a top price seat you really do get a wonderful view of this lovely kaleidoscopic production. Very attentive audience.

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