Opera Scotland

Turn of the Screw 2016Byre Opera

Read more about the opera Turn of the Screw

Byre Opera's new production of Britten's chamber masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw, was a hugely impressive piece of work for such a young group of performers.

Under the leadership of Michael Downes, the company improves every year, and there wasn't a weakness in this cast. Their third Britten chamber opera was the best yet. On opening night, Ben Clark as Miles showed not a trace of nerves and sang sweetly and strongly. Caroline Taylor, about to take up a scholarship at the Royal Northern College of Music, returned to the company in the role of the governess.  Taylor gets better by the year, in this role conveying convincingly not just youth and naivety but the necessary neurotic behaviour. Charles McGlone as the Prologue set the tone of this dark production of a bleak work, in handling various playthings including a female doll puppet. Chris Huggon as Quint and Catherine Hooper as Miss Jessel, darkly attired, caught the attention. The other members of the cast - Christina Bell as Flora and Rebecca Anderson as Mrs Grose - played their parts well in this remarkable company effort.

The direction, by Tania Holland Williams, brought out the ambiguities inherent in the storyline, which blurs the line between the natural and supernatural. Malevolent ghosts were evident, and the setting was suitably gothic. The cast was never static, with much telling detail brought out by movement that always seemed appropriate yet never too 'busy'.

Britten's remarkable music, conducted by Michael Downes, was well performed by the band - the harp placed outside the Byre's small pit.

The Edinburgh performance, on a Saturday afternoon, was given in semi-staged form. A number of modifications had been devised. Most worked well, particularly a slow procession of the singers between scenes emphasising the screw turning as tension builds. As at the opening, Caroline Taylor, Catherine Hooper and Rebecca Anderson gave beautifully sung and strongly characteruised performances. The new Quint, David Lynn, was also excellent. He sang confidently, and his stage performance really was quite creepy - especially as he imposed a clear threat during the Governess's dream sequence. The orchestra was by now quite outstanding.

The production opened at the Byre during graduation week (20–24 June), before touring to the MacRobert Centre in Stirling (Tuesday 28 June), Edinburgh's St Andrews and St George's (Saturday 2 July), and the Maltings Theatre in Berwick (Friday 8 July). This last marked the company's most ambitious tour to date, and first performance across the border.

Tickets £17/£13/£7.50 under 26

Performance Cast

Prologue

Charles McGlone (Exc Jul 8)

David Lynn (Jul 8)

Governess

Caroline Taylor (Exc Jun 23)

Angharad Rowlands (Jun 23)

Miles

Ben Clark (June 22, 23; Jul 2)

Peter Napier (Jun 24, 28; Jul 8)

Flora

Christina Bell (Exc Jun 23)

Laura Briody (Jun 23)

Mrs Grose housekeeper at Bly

Rebecca Anderson (Exc Jun 23)

Meg Inglis (Jun 23)

Miss Jessel a former governess

Catherine Hooper (Exc Jun 23)

Lauren MacLeod (Jun 23)

Peter Quint a former manservant

Chris Huggon (Exc Jul 2)

David Lynn (Jul 2)

Performance DatesTurn of the Screw 2016

Map List

Byre Theatre | St Andrews

22 Jun, 19.30 23 Jun, 19.30 24 Jun, 19.30

MacRobert Arts Centre | Stirling

28 Jun, 19.30

St Andrews and St George's West | Edinburgh

2 Jul, 15.00

Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed | Berwick-upon-Tweed

8 Jul, 19.30

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