The Mail on Sunday


The Turn Of The Screw Garsington Opera, Buckingham­shire Until July 18


The last opening night of this extremely rewarding season at Garsington is a first-rate revival of Louisa Muller’s awardwinni­ng 2019 production of Benjamin Britten’s spooky The Turn Of The Screw.

Premiered in Venice in 1954, it is regarded by some as tricky, so bringing it back after only three years, it was no surprise there were some empty seats.

Those who fancy a last-minute visit should enquire about the availabili­ty of seats for the remaining performanc­es: today, Friday and Monday week.

After all, some Britten aficionado­s regard The Turn Of The Screw as his greatest operatic achievemen­t.

If anything, this revival is even better sung than the original offering. This notwithsta­nding the fact that Susan Bickley was obliged by illness to step aside from the pivotal role of the housekeepe­r Mrs Grose. She was replaced by the prodigious­ly talented Carolyn Holt, who made light of the fact that Mrs Grose is normally sung by a veteran. She was well matched by an outstandin­g role debut from Verity Wingate as The Governess, whose experience­s with the children and the ghosts of previous servants depicted in the opera either really do happen or are due to her over-vivid imaginatio­n.

Robert Murray is fast becoming one of England’s most distinguis­hed character tenors, and he excels both as the Prologue and one of the ghosts, Peter Quint. Helena Dix is outstandin­g as the other ghost, Miss Jessel, while the children (in this performanc­e Maia Greaves and Ben Fletcher) are both extremely well drilled by the director, and really musical.

In the pit, Mark Wiggleswor­th gets some edgily eloquent playing from a section of the Philharmon­ia.

I love The Turn Of The Screw, and have made a point during my now sadly extensive opera-going career of seeing every production that has come my way. It’s therefore meant to be high praise to assert, as I do, that I have never seen it better done than here.

Louisa Muller’s production tells the story in an admirably straightfo­rward way, while Christophe­r Oram’s designs fit the eerie atmosphere extremely well.

A first-class evening in every way.

 ?? ?? REWARDING: Ben Fletcher as Miles and Robert Murray as the ghostly Peter Quint
REWARDING: Ben Fletcher as Miles and Robert Murray as the ghostly Peter Quint

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