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It is indeed ‘a curious story’, as the Prologue says. A remote English country house, an old and faithful housekeeper, two young orphan children and an eager new governess sent down from London to look after them. But all is not quite as it seems in the sheltered world of Bly. Spirits from the past increasingly encroach upon the realm of the living. And one question keeps worming its way into the governess’s mind: what exactly did happen between the children, their former governess and the deceased manservant, Peter Quint? Britten’s brilliantly scored, insidiously compelling adaptation of Henry James’s novella takes its themes of childish innocence and adult corruption, then twists and turns them to disturbing and ultimately devastating effect. Jonathan Kent’s eerily unsettling staging has been recorded at the Glyndebourne Festival conducted by Glyndebourne on Tour’s Music Director, Jakub Hrusa.
“Here is Britten’s supremely crafted operatic masterpiece — not a dud moment or false move — in a shatteringly powerful performance of such musical and theatrical distinction that I scarcely know where to begin apportioning praise. Perhaps the conductor: I already knew the quality of Jonathan Kent’s production from its first outing in 2006, and the cast looked pretty hot on paper too. But what I hadn’t suspected was that the young Czech conductor Jakub Hrusa would offer such a thrillingly visceral, angry and churned-up reading of the score. Galvanising the LPO to playing of scalding brilliance, Hrusa carefully ratcheted up the tension in the early scenes and brought the drama to the boil with an almost daemonic intensity. This wasn’t a nice creepy bedtime story, but something reaching dangerously into the darker reaches of human nature.” Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph
An interview with Joanna Songi (Flora) and Thomas Parfitt (Miles)
An introduction to The Turn of the Screw, featuring director Jonathan Kent and conductor Jakub Hrůša
30th November 2012
“one of the company’s best Britten performances. Jonathan Kent’s production, vividly conducted by Jakob Hrusa, turns the Victorian ghost story into something more modern but equally “innocent” – a 1950s psychological thriller, with strong performances [from Persson and Spence]”
“The Turn of the Screw has been lucky on DVD - but forget those performances. This Glyndebourne production is streets ahead...At its dark heart lies Jakub Hrusa's quite astonishing conducting...A cast of first-rate singers infuse their roles with unnerving life...Altogether, one of the finest opera performances on DVD. Buy it.”
“the casting is ideal...Hrusa's conducting, completely unlike Britten's more romantic approach, looks throughout to emphasise the tone-row (and atonal) elements that stalk this score like the story's ghosts. It's a real contribution to our musical knowledge of the score.”
“the singing is probably the finest on any DVD version of the work … Miah Persson is flawless … Her diction, pitch and sense of line are impeccable … [Spence's] melismatic singing is clean and effortless … wonderful children … Jakub Hrusa leads the London Philharmonic in an instinctual, perversely accented, gut-wrenching reading and the 15-or-so instrumentalists are superb … Both picture and sound are excellent … musically close to perfection”
“the video direction of François Roussillon fully exploits the intimacy of the DVD medium, of this opera and of Jonathan Kent’s stage direction...This superlatively sung, played, acted and directed production sets a gold standard for future staged versions...The opera comes with 22 minutes of extras. These illuminate why this Glyndebourne 2011 version is so distinctive, how it developed and the nature of the journey for the performers”
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