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  • Benjamin Britten - The Turn of the Screw / Padmore · Milne · Wyn Davies · Montague · City of London Sinfonia · Hickox
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Benjamin Britten - The Turn of the Screw / Padmore · Milne · Wyn Davies · Montague · City of London Sinfonia · Hickox


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Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Padmore, Lisa Milne, Diana Montague, Catrin Wyn Davies, Caroline Johnson
  • Format: Classical, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007CGPU0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,394 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Benjamin Britten - The Turn of the Screw / Padmore · Milne · Wyn Davies · Montague · City of London Sinfonia · Hickox" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Synopsis
  • Cast gallery

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Giro Di Vite (Il) / The Turn Of The Screw

Amazon.com

Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw is a masterpiece of atmosphere, ambiguity, and eerie foreboding. Britten's vocal lines mirror the characters' thoughts and feelings and his brilliant orchestration, with its variety of moods and colors, adds fresh nuances to the narrative, pushing it to its inexorable conclusion with emotional power. Richard Hickox conducts expertly and the small orchestra plays with mood-sustaining feeling and projects Britten's inventive scoring with expressiveness and tonal beauty. Lisa Milne in the pivotal role of the governess is superb, singing and acting the role as if born for it. The veteran soprano Diana Montagu as the old housekeeper matches her vocally and acts wonderfully; the interactions between the two singers convey their shared fears, overt in the governess, largely suppressed by the housekeeper. The ghosts are as good; the evil Quint well-portrayed by Mark Padmore, whose beautiful high lyric tenor bends notes and phrases with suitably honeyed malevolence. The children and the former governess are on the same exalted level.

But what makes this DVD version so successful is Katie Mitchell's imaginative direction, vindicating the risky decision to translate the opera from stage to film. This can often subvert what is after all a stage work, artificially airing out indoor scenes or incongruities like having arias sung on mountaintops. Here though, she uses images like a bird's egg crushed by Quint or the dark woods surrounding the house to amplify characterization and mood. Even the device of having soliloquies on the soundtrack while the singer is close-mouthed on screen works, thanks to superb acting that substitutes the understated facial expressions of film for the overstated acting enforced by the stage. Rarely does Mitchell falter; perhaps there are a few too many shots of the ghosts walking purposefully in the woods, but such moments are unimportant given the excellence of this, the finest DVD version of the opera. --Dan Davis

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Colin Graham on August 9, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As the stage manager of the first production of this opera, and as a stage director who has directed it many times, I am very happy to say that I enjoyed this DVD enormously. Beautifully directed and photographed, very interestingly cast, musically impeccable, so well acted and never overstated. The interludes (which have so often given directors problems) were brilliantly handled with an imagination completely in key with the intentions of the composer and librettist and, of course, with Henry James, the author of the novella on which the opera is based.

Colin Graham
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2005
Format: DVD
[I have little to add to Terry Serres' really quite beautifully written and considered review. Indeed, I suggest you read it first, before reading my comments.]

The main thing I want to add, aside from endorsing everything Serres has said, is to point out that TV director Katie Mitchell and her co-workers have made a rarely-used form of television opera production in that the opera is opened out as a movie would be -- that is, it is not confined to an opera stage, but rather is filmed in beautiful British surroundings using the actual singers who recorded the music. What is striking is that at times the singers are seen actually singing their parts but at other times they are filmed as actors with, often, interior monologs being sung by them on the accompanying soundtrack. This is done so seamlessly that it took me a while to realize what the director had done.

Further, the singers are particularly visually apt for their parts. Mark Padmore, aside from being a marvelous singer, becomes the embodiment of the eerie Quint. Lisa Milne looks and acts the part of the innocent but plucky young governess, and she sings beautifully. Diana Montague, in a former time a leading lady of opera -- I still remember her stunning Iphigenia in Gluck's 'Iphigénie in Tauride' -- is simply unbeatable as Mrs. Grose. The two children, Miles and Flora, are convincingly played and sung by Nicholas Kirby Johnson and Keturah Day. Catrin Wyn Davies makes an effective Miss Jessel.

Musically the direction of Richard Hickox, leading the City of London Sinfonia, cannot be bettered. This is a psychologically deft performance.

This is easily one of the best opera DVDs ever made. I had earlier praised (and still like) the staged version from the Schwetzingen Festival, but this one is dramatically much more effective.

Scott Morrison
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MDFinMIA on May 22, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Highest praise for Katie Mitchell's extraordinary cinematic version of this difficult opera. At last, I've found a production that fully opens Britten's work to me...haunting, atmospheric, beautifully filmed and musically involving. Conductor Richard Hickox leads a revelatory performance with a cast that's sung and acted admirably. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Jones on May 21, 2006
Format: DVD
Britten's own recording of this opera was one of my earliest opera purchases, and I have seen two staged productions as well as another video version. One thing that struck me, comparing the two stage versions and Britten's own, was how extremely different the interpretations were, yet all so apt. Britten tends to downplay both his lyricism and his effects, and I found (find) his interpretation beautiful and effective in an austere, interior sense. Christopher Keene played it for lyricism and chromatic beauty. Hugh Keelan (conducting a production of the Chamber Opera Theatre of New York) brought out the sort of creepy horror I'd always missed in the opera, no matter how much I loved it. Hickox seems to top them all with textures breath-taking for being both luxurious and bone-chilling. He brought similar luxury to his CD of Peter Grimes, but here he never slights the drama and he shapes everything (except, perhaps, the piano scene) superbly.

The performers are all top-notch in voice and acting. Unlike the other reviewers here, I'd like to single out Catrin Wyn Davies' Miss Jessel, which is sumptuously sung and acted with hair-raising passion. The duo between Quint and Jessel is an oddity that sometimes doesn't work; here both the singers and the director turn it into a highpoint.

I have less praise for the director. The alternation between "sung" singing and mental monologues is irregular and sometimes peculiar, with one singer not-mouthing the words while the other, in the same room and scene, mouths the responses. Cuts to pacing in the woods also seem unnecessary. Still, she scores many good points, and keeps up the mood.

Because of the iffy direction I would probably never purchase the DVD. But I'd love to have it on CDs!
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