A ghost story. Revealed. Turn by turn. Benjamin Britten and Myfanwy Piper’s haunting operatic version of Henry James’s famous novella The Turn of the Screw is a chilling ghost story, saturated with menace.
A young governess, played by internationally acclaimed Kiwi soprano Anna Leese, is hired by a handsome guardian to instruct his niece and nephew, two young orphans. Furthermore, he has instructed her to follow three rules: never write to him about the children, never ask about the history of Bly house and never abandon the children. It isn’t long before events take a turn for the worse and ghosts appear.
What is real and what is the imagining of a troubled mind? The novel doesn’t make it clear, and Britten and librettist Piper leave it equally ambiguous in the opera. This is a narrative just ambivalent enough for us to project upon it our own fears.
Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess says The Turn of the Screw is a powerful piece of operatic theatre.
“We’re hugely excited to bring a new production of The Turn of the Screw to audiences in Wellington and Auckland. We have brought together a superb Kiwi cast, including four hugely talented young people from Auckland and Wellington, to deliver one of the most powerful operas of the 20th Century. Its themes resonate hugely today and its ambiguity is deeply disconcerting as the audience engage in a detective game to separate fact from fiction.”
The Turn of the Screw features an all-New Zealand cast with Anna Leese in the titular role of The Governess, Jared Holt performing the ghostly Peter Quint and the prologue, Madeleine Pierard as former governess Miss Jessel and Patricia Wright as housekeeper Mrs Grose. The children’s roles are shared by four promising young singers, with Miles played by Lukas Maher and Alexandros Swallow and Flora played by Olivia Forbes and Alexa Harwood.
Set and costumes are designed by Tracy Grant Lord and Matt Marshall is lighting designer.
Britten’s score will be performed on stage by chamber ensembles drawn from Orchestra Wellington and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by expat Kiwi conductor Holly Mathieson.
Artwork for The Turn of the Screw was revealed today, featuring cast members Anna Leese and Jared Holt, and created by New Zealand Opera’s new creative agency Rise Creative.
The Turn of the Screw opens for a strictly limited season in Wellington at the Opera House on 3 October, moving to ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland on 18 October. Tickets are selling fast for this strictly limited season – for more information visit nzopera.com.
The Turn of the Screw
Opera House, Wellington
3 & 5 October
ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland
18, 20 & 23 October
Book at Ticketmaster.co.nz
Governess Anna Leese
Prologue/Peter Quint Jared Holt
Miss Jessel Madeleine Pierard
Mrs Grose Patricia Wright
Miles Lukas Maher/Alexandros Swallow
Flora Olivia Forbes/Alexa Harwood
Conductor Holly Mathieson
Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess
Set and Costume Designer Tracy Grant Lord
Lighting Designer Matthew Marshall