Tuesday, 10 November 2009

THE TURN OF THE SCREW courtesy of Faber

If you subscribe to Faber's email list, you can get some amazing offers. Last night was the second time we've been to a 5* performance at the English National Opera for relative peanuts (5* from reviews, not just me). We saved over £100 on our seats, and had the most brilliant evening.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James was made into an opera in the 1950s, music by Benjamin Britten, libretto by Myfanwy Piper, wife of John Piper the artist.
Here's the opening of the story - a novella, really, but it packs the punch of a short story still:
The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless, but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be, I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen on a child.

Such a good story. And such a fascinating thing, not a single way to interpret what is going on, but Freudian analyses abound, religious significance is seen by those who will, and whatever - the story remains powerful and chilling.
The entire text is HERE, in various files for download, from the University of Virginia.
An aside. The original treble to sing 'Miles', the strange boy in the story, was David Hemmings, who went on to become an actor. We were told by the articles in the programme that during rehearsals, Hemmings shared Benjamin Britten's bed on occasion, but 'there was no sexual stuff'. Righto. Whatever - The Turn of the Screw is one of Britten's most powerful works.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad you both had such a terrific evening - and agree it's Britten's finest opera: the music fits the tale to a ... well, 'T'!
Was one of the first operas I saw live - again, performed by ENO - unforgettable.