The Turn of the Screw

Britten’s Gothic Tale of Terror

Based on Henry James’s chilling 19th-century novella, Benjamin Britten’s psychological thriller The Turn of the Screw launches the Curtis Opera Theatre season with a spine-tingling tale of ghosts and possession at the Philadelphia Film Center. Directed by Chas Rader-Shieber and conducted by Louis Lohraseb, this atmospheric masterpiece has kept audiences on the edge of their seats for over six decades.

A young governess travels to a remote English country house to care for two precocious young orphans. Greeted by the housekeeper Mrs. Grose, she discovers a dark and twisted past looming over Bly Manor. The children’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, but the distraught governess is instructed never to disturb their guardian in London. With each bizarre new incident, she starts to believe that they are haunted by a pair of menacing spirits—Miss Jessel, the children’s depraved former governess, and the abusive valet Peter Quint, her diabolical lover.

Questioning her sanity, she soon becomes entangled in a battle for their souls. Are these apparitions real or simply a figment of an overactive imagination? Are the children innocent, wicked, or unwitting pawns in a spectral game of chess? Britten’s ingenious chamber opera rachets up the tension as it builds to a terrifying, claustrophobic conclusion.

Benjamin Britten, Music
Myfanwy Piper, Libretto

Sung in English with English supertitles.

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