The Turn of the Screw (opera)

The Turn of the Screw is a 20th-century English chamber opera composed by Benjamin Britten with a libretto by Myfanwy Piper, "wife of the artist John Piper, who had been a friend of the composer since 1935 and had provided designs for several of the operas".[1] The libretto is based on the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The opera was commissioned by the Venice Biennale and given its world premiere on 14 September 1954, at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice.[1] The original recording was made during that year, with the composer conducting.

The Turn of the Screw
Chamber opera by Benjamin Britten
Miss Jessel haunts Flora in the 2019 New Zealand Opera production
LibrettistMyfanwy Piper
LanguageEnglish
Based onThe Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
Premiere
14 September 1954 (1954-09-14)

Described as one of the most dramatically appealing English operas, the opera in two acts has a prologue and sixteen scenes, each preceded by a variation on the twelve-note 'Screw' theme. Typically of Britten, the music mixes tonality and dissonance, with Britten's recurrent use of a twelve-tone figure being perhaps a nod to the approach of Arnold Schoenberg. Thematically, the play gives a central role to a line borrowed from W. B. Yeats' poem "The Second Coming": "The ceremony of innocence is drowned."


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