This dark and gripping tale set in the mid-19th century is based on the atmospheric novel by Henry James. A 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.
Starring Emma Bell • Ashley Emerson • Dolora Zajick • William Burden • Alexandra LoBianco
Conductor Nicole Paiement • Director Francesca Gilpin • Set and Costume Designer Paul Brown • Original Lighting Design by Mark Henderson • Lighting Recreated by David Manion
This production of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ was originally created for Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Opera in Brief
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The Prologue introduces ‘a curious story, written in faded ink’, the personal account of a young governess, sent to instruct a boy and a girl in the country, long ago…
On her journey to Bly, the Governess ponders her position’s uncertainties: the orphaned children, the old housekeeper, and her instructions not to contact her charges’ only relative.
The children – Miles and Flora – together with the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, welcome the Governess; Mrs. Grose assures her they are clever and good. The Governess feels at home. When she receives a letter from Miles’s school dismissing him as ‘an injury to his friends’, Mrs. Grose’s protestations and the sight of the children playing reassure her; she decides to ignore it.
Enjoying a warm summer evening in the grounds, the Governess sees a figure on the tower whom she at first imagines to be the children’s relative. But it is not. She suspects it may be a madman or intruder.
As the children are playing indoors, the Governess sees the man again, gazing in at the window. Mrs. Grose identifies him as Quint, the master’s former valet and Miles’s companion, who ‘made free’ with the Governess’s predecessor, Miss Jessel. Both are now dead. Horror-struck, the Governess fears that he has come back for Miles, and swears to protect the children. Mrs. Grose offers her support.
During the children’s lesson, Miles sings a strange song; he asks the Governess if she likes it.
Sitting by the lake with Flora, the Governess sees her staring at Miss Jessel, who has appeared on the other side. Sending Flora away, the Governess believes that both children are lost.
At night in the garden, Quint calls to Miles, and Miss Jessel to Flora. The Governess comes upon them as the ghosts disappear, and asks Miles what he is doing. ‘You see, I am bad,’ he answers.
Quint and Jessel converse, she accusing him of betrayal, he speaking of the friend he seeks. The Governess admits that she is lost in a labyrinth.
In the churchyard, the children emulate choirboys. The Governess tells Mrs. Grose that they are complicit with Quint and Jessel. She has a disconcerting conversation with Miles and thinks he is challenging her to act.
In the schoolroom, the Governess finds Miss Jessel, who says to her that she cannot rest. She writes a letter to her employer telling him what has occurred.
In Miles’s bedroom, she tells him that she has written to his guardian. Quint calls to him. The candle goes out; Miles says that it was he who extinguished it.
Quint’s voice is heard encouraging Miles to retrieve the letter. He complies.
During Miles’s piano practice, the Governess realizes that Flora has slipped away – to meet, she suspects, Miss Jessel. She and Mrs. Grose go in search of her.
At the lake, the Governess accuses Flora of seeing Miss Jessel, who remains invisible to Mrs. Grose. Flora denies it, and Mrs. Grose leads her away. The Governess fears she has lost the housekeeper’s support.
After a horrendous night with Flora, Mrs. Grose prepares to remove her; she also informs the Governess that Miles has stolen the letter.
The Governess confronts Miles. Quint – at first unseen, then visible – warns him to remain silent. She forces Miles to name who made him take the letter. Miles blurts out ‘Peter Quint, you devil!’ collapsing in the Governess’s arms. Realizing he is dead, she sings the strange song he once sang to her.
William Burden (Prologue / Peter Quint) American tenor William Burden has won an outstanding reputation throughout Europe and North America. He has appeared on the world’s leading operatic stages including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera, and La Scala. His symphonic appearances include Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and he has toured Europe with Les Arts Florissants. His recordings include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS Media) and Barber’s Vanessa with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Chandos). He also appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcast of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest. Raised in Florida, Mr. Burden received his master’s degree from Indiana University. Mr. Burden is a on the faculty at the Mannes School of Music.
Emma Bell (Governess) Soprano Emma Bell’s recent appearances include Eva (Meistersinger), Madame Lidoine (Carmélites) and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) for the Royal Opera Covent Garden; Elettra (Idomeneo) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) for La Scala, Milan; Countess and Donna Elvira for the Metropolitan Opera; Countess for Paris Opéra; Governess (The Turn of the Screw) for Teatro Real, Madrid and Berlin State Opera; Elsa (Lohengrin) for Welsh National Opera and Hamburg State Opera Eva (Meistersinger) in Zurich and Arabella for Oper Köln. Future opera plans include Eva for Bayerische Staatsoper; Freia (Rheingold) for the Halle Orchestra; Madame Lidoine for Hamburg Opera; Leonore (Fidelio) for Oper Koln and Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) for the Royal Opera Covent Garden. She is also a prolific concert artist working with conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Sir Antonio Pappano, Kent Nagano and Vladimir Jurowski.
Ashley Emerson (Flora) With her sparkling voice and stage presence, soprano Ashley Emerson has been described as a “vocal and dramatic delight.” This season, she will perform the role of Cunegonde in Candide both with the Theatre du Capitole in Toulouse and Opera National de Bordeaux, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Seattle Opera, and Flora in Turn of the Screw for the Dallas Opera. Recent operatic highlights include a return to the Metropolitan Opera for performances of Berg’s Lulu, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, and the Bloody Child in Macbeth. Additionally, Ms. Emerson was heard as Soeur Constance in Dialogues des Carmelites at Washington National Opera, Tebaldo in Don Carlo in a new production for Opera Philadelphia, and Blondchen in Die Entfu?hrung aus dem Serail with Des Moines Metro Opera.
Dolora Zajick (Mrs. Grose) Hailed as a “force of nature” (Variety), Dolora Zajick has been internationally acclaimed as a true dramatic Verdi mezzo-soprano. Upcoming highlights include performances of Azucena in Il trovatore in Berlin, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera in Rome and her role debut as Mary in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera. Her extensive discography features recordings of Aida, Il trovatore, Don Carlo, Alexander Nevsky and Hérodiade, La forza del destino, the Verdi Requiem; Rusalka and Dolora Zajick: The Art of the Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano. DVDs include multiple live productions of Aida, Don Carlo and Il trovatore. Dolora is also a composer and passionate vocal pedagogue, having founded the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices in 2006, a vocal training program for large or unusual voices.
Alexandra LoBianco (Miss Jessel) American soprano Alexandra LoBianco most recently made her European stage debut as Leonore in Fidelio with Wiener Staatsoper. In the summer of 2016 Ms. LoBianco joins the roster of Santa Fe Opera for La fanciulla del West, and returns to Wiener Staatsoper in the 2016-17 season as Helmwige in Die Walküre on tour in Japan. Her engagements in the 2015-16 season included the title role in Aida with Opera Colorado, and the title role in Tosca with Minnesota Opera. In the summer of 2015 Ms. LoBianco sang Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Des Moines Metro Opera, and the title role in Tosca with PORTopera in Maine. The recipient of many prestigious awards, Ms. LoBianco is also a respected vocal instructor and mentor of numerous students.
Nicole Paiement (Conductor) Nicole Paiement is the Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle in San Francisco, where she has conducted many new productions of World and American premieres. Under her leadership, the company has quickly developed a reputation for its innovative approach to contemporary opera. Since 2012, Paiement has also been the Principal Guest Conductor at the Dallas Opera. Additionally, Paiement has been the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project, a new music series sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. With this music series, she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living composers. Paiement is an active guest conductor. Upcoming engagements include appearances at the Washington National Opera; Glimmerglass Festival; Atlanta Opera; OtherMinds; and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Her recordings include numerous world premiere works.
Jonathon Kent (Original Production) Jonathan Kent (director), opera productions include Don Giovanni, Hippolyte et Aricie (Glyndenbourne); The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne, Los Angeles); The Fairy Queen (Glyndebourne, Opera Comique, BAM); The Tempest, Kát’a Kabanová, Le nozze di Figaro, The Letter (Santa Fe); Tosca, Manon Lescaut (Royal Opera House); A Child of our Time and The Flying Dutchman (ENO); Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky). Productions as joint artistic director of the Almeida Theatre included All For Love, Medea (also West End, Broadway), Tartuffe, Hamlet (also Broadway), The Life of Galileo, The Rules of the Game, Ivanov, The Government Inspector, Naked (also West End), and The Tempest. Other Broadway credits include Long Day’s Journey into Night, Faith Healer, and Man of La Mancha as well numerous credits for the National Theatre, London.
Francesca Gilpin (Stage Director) Francesca Gilpin, director, has worked at the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Los Angeles Opera, L’Opera Comique and Le Chatelet, Paris, and Theatre de Caen. In 2001 she created Opera by Definition, which she ran for 10 years. She also set up the company’s education and outreach department, taking opera into over 20 schools and providing ongoing training for young singers. Production credits as Director include The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Eugene Onegin, Tamerlano, Beatrice di Tenda, The Haunted Manor, La bohème. Production credits as Revival/Associate/Assistant Director include Rodelinda, Iphigenie en Aulide, Tales of Hoffman, The Bartered Bride, Fidelio, Albert Herring, La Cenerentola, The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin, Hippolyte & Aricie, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Paul Brown (Set and Costume Director) Welsh designer Paul Brown made his Royal Opera debut in 1991, creating designs forMitridate, re di Ponto, directed by Graham Vick. His designs since for The Royal Opera include King Arthur, The Midsummer Marriage and Falstaff, directed by Vick, I masnadieri, directed by Elijah Moshinsky, and Tosca and Manon Lescaut, directed by Jonathan Kent. He also created designs for Sylvie Guillem’s production of Giselle, performed at the Royal Opera House by La Scala Ballet in 2001.
Brown was born in Glamorgan, South Wales, and trained under Margaret Harris. He has worked prolifically in opera. UK credits include Lulu, Pelléas et Mélisande, The Turn of the Screw, The Fairy Queen, Don Giovanni and Hippolyte et Aricie for Glyndebourne Festival and The Flying Dutchman for English National Opera. His European credits include Peter Grimes and Parsifal (Opéra-Bastille), Guillaume Tell (Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro), Mefistofele (Amsterdam), Tristan und Isolde (Deutsche Oper Berlin) and War and Peace, Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Theatre). His US credits include Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Moses und Aron (Metropolitan Opera, New York) and Kát’a Kabanová and Adès’s The Tempest (Santa Fe).
Brown has also designed prolifically in theatre. He worked with Kent on many productions at the Almeida, including Coriolanus, Richard II, King Lear, The Tempesta nd Platonov. Other designs include Man of La Mancha (Broadway) and Philip Haas’s films Angels and Insects and Up at the Villa.