The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne Tour, cond. McFall)
This is the time of year for ghost stories. The trick to a successful ghost story is ambiguity. Specificity is the enemy of that delightful chilling sensation. M. R. James is the undisputed master. He gives you enough to start imagining things but leaves it to your mind. Henry James wrote the Turn and is pretty creepy if you enjoy such things, as I do. I think there are some differences in the text and opera- that Miles is nastier in the text and the staff are much frostier to the Governess. But it is a few years since I read it.
A giant astrolabe on the stage might be the way to explain Jonathan Kent’s staging. It included several really wonderful bits. The Prologue delivered from atop a trunk became a train very cleverly, with projected footage as if through windows and a lowered curtain. This revolved into a domestic scene, which rotated in something like a corkscrew, and was consistently charming and clever, quite literally by turns. A doll house was a toy but became the house in a distance when it had revolved around to the back of the stage for the section by the pond. Mark Henderson’s lighting revived by David Manion was highly effective in maximizing the impact of an essentially pared-back set. Britten’s score likewise was relatively spare but had moments of warmth and – between say Grimes and Venice. The staging and lighting really stole the show for me - everythign was well done, but it was the visual side of the production which really excelled.
Quint and Jessel were scary; the children were inoffensive; and Governess and Grose worked effectively too. This was an enjoyably creepy production, and I would be more than happy to see it again.
Conductor: Leo McFall
Quint: Anthony Gregory
Governess: Natalya Romaniw
Flora: Louise Moseley
Miles: Thomas Delgado-Little
Mrs Grose: Anne Mason
Miss Jessel: Miranda Keys