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on 7 January 2013
I agree with everything I Giles has written, except that I wish I had his strength of constitution....I broke down in tears twice whilst watching this extraordinary performance!!!! It would indeed be invidious to pick out individual performers for special praise....they are all excellent....superb sets, lighting and otchestral playing under Hrusa, clearly an emerging talent....but there are some moments which stop the breath and even the heart - Quint's seduction of Miles at bath-time - Flora by the lake - and, my word, anyone who can listen in this amazing performance to Miles's "Malo" song, or its reprise by the Governess at the end, without their heart breaking at least a little probably doesn't have one!!!

As Fischer-Dieskau said at the end of the premiere of the War Requiem, "I was completely undone; I did not know where to hide my face". I felt the same after watching this. Try it and see.
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on 17 February 2013
I have never been particularly keen on opera but having recently discovered the music of Benjamin Britten and read excellent reviews of this production I decided to take the plunge and buy this more modern opera.

Wow - what a revelation! This production is so engaging, the set is so creative with excellent use of the two revolves and being in English is easy to follow without turning the subtitles on. Even our eight year old was engrossed.

However it is the performances that really mark this out as memorable. Full marks to all but particularly Toby Spence whose portrayal of Quint stayed in my mind for days after - by understanding Britten's desire to move away from the traditional Victorian ghost story, he has created a Quint more realistic and thus much more disturbing.

I recommend watching the first time with subtitles off to capture the main thrust of the story and then turn them on for the second viewing to really understand the nuances of the plot and the full emotion of the piece.
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This disc, recorded in 2011 is the third version of this production put on at Glyndebourne and, as Jonathan Kent the producer explains in the very informative bonus films, each time there has been a précising down with an ever increasing concentration of impact.
The period is the 1950's, the period in which the story was written. There has been a deliberate attempt to avoid `hiding' behind a Victorian ghost story and rather there is portrayed a psychological drama set in the last decade of believable innocence.

The staging is very simple in so far as there is a revolving stage with a central large glass panel like an enormous window that is tilted and turned in all directions. This glass panel acts as a see-through screen mediating between the real and imagined, the inside and outside and many other pairs of opposites as the story progresses.

The cast in the opera are just six accompanied by a very small chamber orchestra which only rarely plays together. The instruments are imaginatively used in small combinations to create remarkable and effective textures ideal to create the shifting moods of the story.

The opera starts with a prologue taken by Toby Spence who also takes the part of Peter Quince. In this he acts in an un-ghostly manner and in this way achieves a character of utter evil. The two children are played by Joanna Songi as Flora and Thomas Parfitt as Miles. Both are note perfect and this has to be seen as a remarkable achievement from a 12 year old boy. Mrs Grose is an effective housekeeper, played by Susan Bickley and Mrs Jessel is strongly played by Giselle Allen. The stage star of the evening has to be Miah Persson as the governess whose innocence is equally destroyed by events.

The words `played' or `taken' as chosen above, have been chosen to reflect Jonathan Kent's self-description of his role as similar to producing a play or drama on stage. However this is also an opera and, without singling out anyone at all as that would be invidious in the circumstances, it should stressed that the considerable musical demands of the score are overcome to the point where one never even considers them, the viewer is so caught up in the drama.

There are many simply spine tingling moments and here the camera work certainly aids the impact of the video production. The imaging is very sharp and the colour rendition is perfect. The sound is presented in both DTS 5.1 and stereo and is as full ranging as the instrumentation allows and is especially clear. The conductor, Jakub Hrusa, is able to conjure superb results from his small band of talented musicians.

The 22 minutes of bonus films offer a deep insight to this work and production in the words of the producer, designer, conductor and cast. This bonus is excellently informative and straightforward to follow.

In total, the combination of production, performance and recording offered by this disc amount to a particularly impressive and involving musical and dramatic experience.
It is reasonable to suggest therefore that this disc should warrant, at the very least, very serious consideration from any purchaser looking for a fine modern recording of this powerful opera.


Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Thank you for your review. I love this opera, and have been wanting to order this blu-ray, but shaken by so many bizarre stagings of late I have been waiting for someone to describe exactly how this is handled. So, from now on, when I mean "helpful" I will post a comment. Thanks again (see comment below)

Thank you for the review, which is indeed helpful. (see comment below)
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on 8 March 2013
If you are a Britten fan, this has to be the best production and performance of his opera ever. So often, Glynebourne productions tick all the boxes and Turn of the Screw is no exception.
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on 13 February 2013
A truly scarry performance.
The principle performers are of the top rank and the staging etc are inspiring.
Get it!
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on 9 August 2013
First, the positives: It features two of my favourite singer/actresses: Miah Persson (so good in Cosi Fan Tutte) and Susan Bickley (brilliant as Juno in Semele). The singing and acting performances of all the singers, youngsters included, were excellent, and the stage setting was very imaginative. I would also add that the Blu-ray production values were exceptional too.
However: Although I wanted to like this, I have a reservation about the actual opera itself, and perhaps it stems partly from this particular production. I speak personally, of course, but I found it unsatisfying. I felt neither moved, nor involved somehow, and taking the drama out of its Victorian Ghost Story context and concentrating on a more psychological interpretation, lost something and didn't work for me. At the end, I just thought 'OK, but what are you trying to tell me - beyond the outward story of lost innocence?' No food for thought. No inciteful revelations. No lasting impact. Did I miss something?

Add to this Britten's near melody-free score and what are you left with? - No-one's going to leave the theatre singing the hit tunes. It seems to me that there are yards of text sung for no apparent reason. It could just have been a play. OK, technically I was impressed with the way the singers constantly handled difficult and seemingly impossible vocal intervals, and amazed at how they managed to memorise vast quantities of unmemorable music, but it doesn't add up to enough.

Maybe your reactions will be different from mine, but sadly it didn't really work for me.
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on 31 January 2013
This was a gift to my Mother, as a result of a previous review. She exclaimed it was the best Christmas gift ever! High praise indeed.
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on 22 September 2013
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