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Csavlek Etelka is a forceful Mrs Grose -- younger and far less the dowdy ditherer than she is often portrayed. And seeming far more dubious about the Governess from their first encounter.

The children are amazingly confident. Ivanics Atilla as Miles has more self-consciousness on the stage than Babay Nóra (a genuine girl rather than ingenue soprano) as Flora but he produces a tone blessedly free of any English choirboy associations. His singing of the 'Malo' sequence in the Lesson Scene is a thing of heightened self-communing sensuality. The musically insightful slight broadening of the harp arpeggios adds to the breath-catching, collar-loosening effect that Britten was surely striving for. As he imitates the pose of his most overtly inviting statue (a bit too Visconti Death in Venice as posing moments go, perhaps ...) it becomes clear that the Governess is smitten. Whatever 'innocence' she may or may not have brought to Bly is fatally compromised in that moment -- the most disturbing but the most effective of the production.

Quint (Ottokár Klein), Mrs Grose (Etelka Csavlek) and Miss Jessel (Gabriella Fodor) in Balázs Kovalik's production of 'The Turn of the Screw'. Photo © Béla Mezey
Quint (Ottokár Klein), Mrs Grose (Etelka Csavlek) and Miss Jessel (Gabriella Fodor) in Balázs Kovalik's production of 'The Turn of the Screw'. Photo © Béla Mezey

In comparison with that, I fear that the 'ghosts' are far too less than fearsome. The Miss Jessel of Fodor Gabriella is feisty enough and the vocal talent is all there but it's hard to be stirred or scared by what looks like an escapee from a sixties pop dance group. We had something called 'Pan's People' in the UK. Perhaps they had them in Hungary, too!

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Copyright © 29 February 2004 David Wilkins, Eastbourne UK

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