The Turn of the Screw – Perth 1991

The DVD of Opera Australia’s production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw is a train wreck. I’m not sure how much of the problem is due to the stage production and how much to the treatment for DVD but the end result is horrible. It’s almost impossible to comment on Neil Armfield’s production because one can’t tell when one is seeing it and when it’s being overlaid or perhaps even replaced by some conceit of the video director. The overall effect is completely incoherent. The barely TV quality picture doesn’t help things.

Musically it’s not good either. The singing is, at best, patchy. The children (Lanneke Jones as Flora and Patrick Littlemore as Miles) do fine and the ghostly pair; Anson Austin and Wendy Dixon, are adequate without being terribly otherworldly. The real problem lies with the Governess of Eilene Hannan and the Mrs. Grose of Margaret Haggart. Both are squally when loud and tending to drop into speech when quieter. Their duets are really hard on the ears. David Stanhope conducts the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. It’s not pretty. This score is hugely rhythmically inventive and the rhythm should drive the thing along. This reading is rhythmic mush. Again, nobody is helped by the recording. The quality of the Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is poor. It’s unfocussed and muddy adding to the overall lack of definition.

If you’ve got this far you probably won’t care that there are no subtitles and the only documentation is a chapter listing. There isn’t even a cast list.


5 thoughts on “The Turn of the Screw – Perth 1991

  1. I’ve just received my Faveo release of this DVD and it has got subtitles.
    I’m not yet able to say what else I might not agree with
    but am not liking the under-powered Miles so far.

  2. My name is Barry Bowen, I live in Cincinnati. I was choirmaster at St. Marks at the time of the production of The Turn of the Screw, Im commenting on the underpowered Miles. I heard the opera in Perth and was horrified at the weak sound of Miles./ Patrick had immense power before that opera until one of the singers decided to ‘teach” him how to sing and effectively cut the power of his voice in half. One of my boys was Amore in the coronation of Poppia to international acclaim . and other boys. In future none of the OPERA SINGERS, was to deal with a voice they clearly did not understand. If you want to make a comment my email address is

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