Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 43 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 19, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 42
Seattle Opera's Turn of the Screw a chilling psychological thriller
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Seattle Opera's Turn of the Screw a chilling psychological thriller

by Sharon Cumberland - SGN A&E Writer

SEATTLE OPERA
THE TURN OF THE SCREW
BY BENJAMIN BRITTEN
LIBRETTO BY MYFANWY PIPER
MARION OLIVER MCCAW HALL
October 13 (Opening Night cast continues 10/17, 10/24 & 10/27)


October, with its long, spooky path into Halloween, is the perfect moment to see The Turn of the Screw, Benjamin Britten's chamber opera based on Henry James' classic ghost story. Everything necessary to be creep-ed out is here - a remote manor house with an absent Lord, a timid governess, a pair of orphaned children, and a weird pair of dead people haunting the mansion where they mysteriously died. Henry James' psychological thriller has translated perfectly to the operatic medium (pun intended), posing unanswerable questions: Is the governess seeing things or are the ghosts really there? Have the young orphans, Flora and Miles, been abused in a way that goes beyond neglect? Why does Miles think he's a 'naughty boy,' and what does 'naughty' mean in this context?

The opera's title helps set the tone since the screw being turned is an ancient torture device - the thumbscrew - used to compel information from an unfortunate victim. But since anyone will say anything under conditions of fear and torture, the opera keeps us in doubt while different clues surface concerning the evil that has happened at the mansion. Though the story was written in 1898 and composed into an opera in 1954, this tale of secrets and wickedness - projected onto paranormal forces - has deep resonances in today's #metoo movement, and in the relationship of hyper-wealth to corruption that fills the news every day. We can't overlook the fact that the Oxford English Dictionary defines the use of the verb 'screw' as slang for sexual intercourse as early as 1719 (Suffolk Country Court General Session; 'The sd. Mr. Boyd screwed Mr. Longs Maid of Charlestown.') No, it's not your fevered imagination that reads sex into the title - it's actually, really there. And the sexual anxiety that throbs through this opera is made all the more scary because children may be involved - though we're not sure - it could all be in the Governess' fevered imagination.

Chief among the clever directorial choices in this impressive production is the casting of real boys to sing the role of Miles. Opening Night audiences heard the wonderful Rafi Bellamy Plaice, a young man who won the Choir Boy of the Year award in England in 2017. His voice is amazingly mature and consistent through all registers - and how a young teenager can project into an opera house is a mystery to me. He handled the very sensitive role of Miles with a perfect combination of innocence as an actor and sophistication as a singer. His aria 'Malo, Malo' ('Bad Boy') was delivered with chilling precision and heart-rending sorrow as Miles exposes his fear of having been corrupted by the evil Peter Quint. I'm sure I join everyone who loves treble voices in hoping that this marvelous singer, when he comes through puberty, will possess a voice as compelling in his adulthood as it is in his youth.

Everyone else in the cast was fantastic as well - this was a case in which all singers rose to the level of each other. Elizabeth Caballero, in the demanding role of the Governess, is as innocent and desperate as an isolated young woman facing ghosts should be - alternately powerful and whimpery. Soraya Mafit, as Miles' little sister Flora, is an adult who has sung such grown-up roles as Tytania in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Suor Genoveva in Puccini's Suor Angelica. But her small stature, understated acting - along with the oversized doll she carried - created the illusion of innocent, exploited childhood. My favorite ghost was performed by Ben Bliss, who was both the narrator - the neglectful Lord who tells the young Governess never to disturb him with letters - and the ghost of the evil Peter Quint. His role is essential to make the audience understand why the Governess is frozen in her resolve to take action that might save the children. Bliss is as scary as a ghost as he is devastatingly handsome and mesmerizing as the narrator. Caught between love for the handsome aristocrat and terror at the prowling, vengeful Peter Quint - what is a poor governess to do? As she informs the housekeeper when Miles is expelled from school for mysterious sins: 'I will do nothing. I will say nothing.' Spoiler alert: Bad choice, Governess.

Adding to the Halloween quality of the evening is a setting made primarily of projections by Adam Larsen that melt and transform from the train station, to the train, the countryside, and finally the mansion where optimism collapses into terror. Britten's music has a creepy, modern quality, though with a set of lovely aria-like pieces. Since it's a chamber opera the orchestra is very small - one cello, one viola, two violins, one bass, four woodwind, one horn, piano, harp, and a really impressive array of percussion to convey all the heart-beat, skeleton-like sounds that ratchet up the anxiety embedded in the music. The musicians came on stage to take a bow on opening night - the first time I've seen the whole orchestra join the singers and directors. Constantin Trinks, from Germany, made his debut as a conductor for Seattle Opera, and we can only hope to see him again. He handled his small forces with all the dynamism and drama the complex music required, while guiding his young singers with a sure hand.

As I left McCaw Hall on opening night I heard patrons debating the meaning of the ghosts, the nature of the evil committed, and the very creepy, mysterious ending. They were fully engaged in the way any opera company hopes the audience will respond. I was a bit surprised to hear a couple of opera-goers say they liked the story more than the music - but when I looked to see who was speaking, they were among the older folks for whom opera is meant to be more melodic than atmospheric. To me the music sounded contemporary but not strange - it was exactly what was needed for this story.

And hey - it's October! Time for atmospheric chills and thrills! Britten's opera is much more than a scary story for Halloween, however. It is a masterpiece of contrasts between hope and despair, optimism and terror, and an ultimate comment on the price we pay for neglecting our children, and for not speaking the truth when necessary. Both the music and the subjects are apt commentary for today, with the complex, multi-layered music it takes to tell such a story.

For those who have ears to hear - and eyes to see something really exciting - get thee to McCaw Hall for The Turn of the Screw. The production run through October 27 (and, as Alice Bloch notes in her review of Sunday's performance, if you attend on the last day you get to go onstage in costume for a masquerade party!).

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Seattle Opera's Turn of the Screw a chilling psychological thriller
------------------------------
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS: Harvey Fierstein's acclaimed Casa Valentina at Erickson Theatre Oct 19-28
------------------------------
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a stunning work of art
------------------------------
Seattle Women's Chorus is making jubilant noise
------------------------------
Seattle Opera goes full Hitchcock with The Turn of the Screw
------------------------------
Come From Away still a fun and uplifting show
------------------------------
Seattle Humane - Pets of the Week
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
An open letter to the community on the Kavanaugh appointment from GSBA President and CEO Louise Chernin
------------------------------

------------------------------
Pulpy Bad Times a violently retro slice of noir-soaked ambiguity
------------------------------
Emotionally byzantine Hate U Give easy to love
------------------------------
Michael Myers and Laurie Strode return in Halloween
------------------------------
Heartrending The Guilty a breathlessly tense real-time thriller
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1707 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News 2018 - DigitalTeamWorks 2018

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News