A New, Haunting Presentation by The Dallas Opera

by christian.anderson

The Acclaimed Glyndebourne Production of
Starring Soprano Emma Bell and Mezzo Dolora Zajick in Their Dallas Opera Debuts and Tenor William Burden
Nicole Paiement Conducts, Francesca Gilpin Directs

OPENING FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House

AT&T Performing Arts Center

Additional Performances: March 19(m), 22 and 25

Tickets start at $19
Call 214-443-1000 or Visit dallasopera.org

            DALLAS, FEBRUARY 24, 2017 – The Dallas Opera is proud to present a landmark of modern opera new to the company’s repertoire: THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Benjamin Britten, with a libretto by Myfanwy Piper. The dark and gripping tale is based on the atmospheric, nineteenth-century novella by Henry James. This production from England’s Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens on Friday, March 17, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. at the Winspear Opera House. Three additional performances of THE TURN OF THE SCREW will take place on March 19(m), 22, and 25, 2017.        

            Single tickets, starting at just $19, are on sale now, with seating subject to availability. Tickets may be purchased online, at the door, at the ticket office, or by calling 214.443.1000.  Flex subscriptions (three opera productions) start at $75 and are still available for this season.

            The Winspear Opera House is located at 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201 in the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

            This Jonathan Kent production, successfully updated to the 1950s, features eagerly anticipated company debuts by British soprano Emma Bell, American mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick, hailed as a “force of nature,” and the return of tenor William Burden, last seen on The Dallas Opera stage in our charming final production in the Music Hall at Fair Park, Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri.

            Nicole Paiement, the Martha R. and Preston A. Peak Principal Guest Conductor, leads Britten’s enthralling twentieth-century score, mixing tonality and dissonance with the recurrent use of a twelve-note theme.

            The work will be staged by British director Francesca Gilpin, whose distinguished career has included film and video work, as well as frequent stage assignments in major productions for both the Royal Opera House (U.K.) and Glyndebourne.

            The opera’s plot reads like a Gothic novel, but is vastly more mysterious and complex than most: A young governess is hired to care for two children at Bly, an English country house. The position, which initially seemed promising, soon turns puzzling when the governess sees what she believes to be a ghost. The housekeeper reveals a sordid series of events involving two former employees, now dead, who may have had inappropriate relationships with the children. Miles and Flora, the children, display bizarre and often troubling behavior. The ghosts torment them and the governess to such an extreme that she must decide whether to leave Bly House or stay in order to protect her charges.  Is the danger immediate and real?  Or conjured by a disturbed or deranged mind?

The Turn of the Screw (640x427)

            “One of my artistic goals for The Dallas Opera is to introduce our audience to excellent works they may not have yet seen, and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw is one of these gems,” says Keith Cerny, the Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO of The Dallas Opera.

            “The haunting storyline, masterfully composed music, and the opportunity to present the acclaimed Glyndebourne production all inspired me to program this opera. With the stellar cast and production team, and conducting by our Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, I know we will create a compelling theatrical experience that will captivate our audiences. Join us for this rare opportunity to see one of the finest operas of the twentieth century.”

            The idea to use the novella, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, for the setting of Britten’s 1954 opera came from Myfanwy Piper, the wife of his frequent designer/collaborator, John Piper (Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House). Britten was intrigued by the many disturbing ambiguities in the story.  Are the ghosts seen by the frightened governess (and the audience) real or mere figments of her imagination?  What was the nature of the relationships between the children and the now-deceased Peter Quint? 

            Britten’s opera was well received at the Venice Biennale, which commissioned the work and staged its mid-century world premiere.

            British soprano Emma Bell will star as the tormented Governess. “As the governess, Emma Bell is superbly equivocal, neurotic but never hysterical,” (Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times). “… Emma Bell deserves pride of place for her overwhelming performance as the Governess, an assumption that by vocal and dramatic means brought the character to frightening life,” (Carlos Maria Solare, Opera).

            Performing the dual roles of the Prologue and Peter Quint, American tenor William Burden recently won a Grammy for Best Opera Recording for his part in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Tempest. He charmed Dallas audiences as Lindoro in The Italian Girl in Algiers (2009). His “virile passion and consummate lyricism” inspired The New York Times to rave that his “subdued emotional intensity permeates every line of Mr. Burden’s elegant singing.” 

          Known as a “mezzo in a class by herself,” Dolora Zajick makes her long-awaited Dallas Opera debut as Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper. “Zajick’s voice, acting, and sheer presence carry the audience to a higher level of emotional truth than anything in the show,” raved DC Theatre Scene. “Zajick’s voice, with a hint of metal at the back of the upper notes and cavernous expansion in the lower ones, is still a couple of sizes bigger than most people’s, and as an actress, too, she delivered the goods,” (The Washington Post).

            American soprano Alexandra Lobianco, praised by Maria Mazzaro of Opera News for “dramatic flair and clarion power throughout her range,” will sing the role of the doomed Miss Jessel.

            The all-important roles of “Miles” and “Flora” – the two children in this haunting opera, will be sung by 12-year old boy treble Oliver Nathanielsz and soprano Ashley Emerson in their Dallas Opera debuts.

            Leading the acclaimed Dallas Opera Orchestra will be Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, who has developed an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Wayne Lee Gay of D Magazine’s Front Row wrote of The Dallas Opera’s 2015 world premiere of Joby Talbot’s Everest: “(Paiement) combined old-fashioned precision and discipline with up-to-the-minute insight into the complex modernity of the score.”

            Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Senior Classical Music Critic for Theater Jones, also acknowledged Paiement’s skill with contemporary works in his review: “…balancing these three musical elements so that each one comes forward at its assigned time and then retreats, allowing another to take over, is a superhuman endeavor. This charge falls to conductor Nicole Paiement, who brilliantly weaves Talbot’s warp and woof into what can only be called a soundscape of Everest.”

            Maestra Paiement is highly inspired by the music in The Turn of the Screw. “This very tightly written score is Britten at his best, expressing good and evil with equal uncertainties and with a truly imaginative sound world,” Paiement writes.  “In the most ingenious way, Britten weaves a recurring twelve-tone figure into his tonal musical fabric and fills the score with telling details that brings the dramatic tension to a high peak arguably unsurpassed in any other works.”

            Renowned British stage director Francesca Gilpin makes her company debut in this original production created by Jonathan Kent for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in which she has earned rave reviews.

Set and Costume Design is by Paul Brown.  Mark Henderson’s original lighting design will be recreated by David Manion.  Wig and make-up design will be by Stephanie Williams.

            The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talks, a free, pre-performance lecture, will be conducted one hour prior to curtain at most performances. More perspective can be gained through “Opera Insights” presented by The Dallas Opera Guild. The informative panel discussion featuring artists, directors and/or designers takes place Sunday, March 5, 2017,

3:00-4:30 p.m. in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House. For more details, visit dallasopera.org.

            THE TURN OF THE SCREW will be performed in English with English supertitles projected above the stage.  For tickets, call 214.443.1000 or visit dallasopera.org.



The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family







Contact Suzanne Calvin, Director of Media and PR at suzanne.calvin@dallasopera.org

Or Celeste Hart, Communications Manager at celeste.hart@dallasopera.org


The Dallas Opera Family Performances are generously supported by

Texas Instruments and the Betty and Steve Suellentrop

Educational Outreach Fund.


TDO Family Performances are a part of the

Perot Foundation Education and Community Outreach Programs



All performances are in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center unless otherwise indicated.  Single Tickets range from $19 to $275. Flex Subscriptions (three-performances of your choice) begin at $75.  Family performance tickets are just $5. For more information or to make your purchase, contact The Dallas Opera Ticket Services Office at 214.443.1000 or visit us online, 24/7, at www.dallasopera.org.



The Dallas Opera celebrates its Sixtieth International Season in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. Evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. unless otherwise stated.  English translations will be projected above the stage at every performance and assistance is available for the hearing impaired.  The Joy and Ronald Mankoff Pre-Opera Talk will begin one hour prior to curtain, at most performances excluding FIRST NIGHT of the season.


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