Set to thrill a new generation of theatregoers, State Opera South Australia will present a brand-new production of Benjamin Britten’s gothic opera The Turn of the Screw at the Festival Theatre from 30 April.
For those who like their entertainment served up with a dose of psychological terror, this evergreen ghost story about a Governess, her two young wards, and a possibly-imagined set of horrors at a grand English country house, is bound get minds and hearts racing.
State Opera’s Artistic Director Stuart Maunder leads this new production created exclusively for Adelaide audiences and is joined by long-time collaborators Roger Kirk (sets and costumes) and Trudy Dalgleish (lighting).
Maunder said that the opera plays with the ideas of repression, passion, doubt, and the corruption of innocence. “It constantly asks us what is real and what is imagined,” he said.
“Roger Kirk’s grand country manor with enormous rooms give us a sense that we may suffocate in the wide-open spaces, and we cannot shake the feeling that everything would be alright if only we could wake up from this horror,” said Maunder.
The Turn of the Screw is a classic of English language operatic repertoire, but has rarely been seen on the Australian stage. This will be the first production in SA for more than 20 years and a real treat for music aficionados and newcomers alike.
Starting out as a 60-page novella penned by Henry James, the story has inspired ballets, plays, countless Hollywood films and most recently a Netflix series. With each iteration in popular culture, another generation discovers the terror of lingering doubt.
“Britten’s opera is remarkable in its directness, stillness, economy, brevity. It is disturbing, unnerving, and often extremely beautiful… There is no other opera in the repertoire which dances around the dangerous unknown with such flair,” said Maunder.
Bringing Britten’s music and this ghastly tale to life are some truly remarkable artists in Kanen Breen and Rachelle Durkin. Their characters; the dead manservant Peter Quint and the naïve Governess, engage in a psychological battle for the souls of two young children.
Breen is one of Australia’s most in-demand and versatile tenors and is familiar to connoisseurs of opera and cabaret alike. Durkin is an Australian soprano with impeccable international opera credentials and captivating stage presence.
They are joined by veteran opera legend as Mrs Grose, Fiona McArdle as Miss Jessel and Eliza Brill-Reed and Max Junge as the two bright voiced (and slightly terrifying) children who both make their professional debuts for the company, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Anthony Hunt.
“If the ghosts are real, then the Governess is sane, her efforts to protect the children are noble and unselfish. If they aren’t real, then the battle with malevolent forces must be all in her mind. Either way, the story is riveting,” said Maunder.
“The Turn of the Screw dances on the tightrope of doubt to deliver spine-chilling ambiguity to the very end. It is a “must-see” event.”
Conductor: Anthony Hunt | Director: Stuart Maunder AM | Featuring: Kanen Breen, Eliza Brill-Reed, Elizabeth Campbell, Rachelle Durkin, Max Junge, Fiona McArdle, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra | Designer: Roger Kirk | Lighting: Trudy Dalgleish
The Turn of the Screw
Festival Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 30 April – 6 May 2022
Information and Bookings: www.stateopera.com.au
Image: State Opera South Australia presents The Turn of the Screw (supplied)