Voices of the Unseen: Benjamin Britten's Reading of The Turn of the Screw

2012 E-REA  
The first performance of Benjamin Britten's opera, based on Henry James's 1898 novella, took place in Venice, at the Teatro La Fenice in 1954. Turning the text into an opera had required major changes, owing to the transposition of a complex Jamesian narrative form into a dramatic one. However, the librettist, Myfanwy Piper, and Benjamin Britten, working in close association, had attempted to retain, to some extent, the undecipherable enigma around which the novella functions. James's narrative
more » ... system could hardly be maintained: a first nameless narrator begins the storytelling, relating a strange Christmas party in an old house, then introduces a second narrator called Douglas, who reads out from an old manuscript the story of a (nameless) governess and two children (christened Miles and Flora, but without a surname) told by the nameless governess herself, who is thus introduced as third and main narrator, and whose voice is heard until the novella ends.
doi:10.4000/erea.544 fatcat:rntbcso6jratpdlczfypnjy2yi