Night and Day: Wednesday, November 5, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Once Britten

By Leonard Eureka

In a brilliant change of pace, Fort Worth Opera explores the genius of Benjamin Britten with performances of The Turn of the Screw this week. Opera as theater rather than spectacle, the piece is based on the Henry James novella of the same name. This is the companyís first go-íround with Britten, a man who ranks with the best 20th-century composers. He fathered 16 operas before his death in 1976 to become the most successful English opera writer in 200 years.

Britten and librettist Myfanwy Piper expanded the James short story by giving voice to the ghosts that haunt this intense psychological thriller and held the scenes together with musical interludes that heighten dramatic impact. (A chamber group of 13 musicians accompanies.) The opera was conceived as a sung film version of the story, and the music seems more cinematic than grand opera, although its premiere was heard at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice in 1954. Interestingly, two other operas on the Fort Worth schedule this season, Verdiís Rigoletto and Rossiniís LíItaliana in Algeri, also had their premieres in that august house.

Soprano Janice Hall, who has sung in Londonís Covent Garden as well as with the Cologne and Chicago operas, will sing the pivotal role of the governess. Tenor Carl Halvorson of the New York City Opera and soprano Jennifer Kethley will sing the ghosts. Joyce Castle of the Metropolitan Opera is Mrs. Grose.

Christopher Larkin, remembered for his sympathetic conducting of Norma a while back, returns to lead the performances.

Fri, Sun, and Tue at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St, FW. $10-90. 877-212-4280.


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