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The lovely surroundings of Bly, so beautifully captured by the cameras, dominate the new Governess's thoughts at the start of Scene 4. She has conquered initial diffidence, wondered about a far-off cry in the night, and a faint footstep past her door, but decided to ignore whatever reasons lie behind Miles's dismissal from his school. Suddenly, though, Peter Quint appears upon a tower and she is thrown into doubt and confusion about his possible identity [listen -- Variation III: Act 1 Scene 4 -- The Tower]. A second sighting of Quint leads her to quizz Mrs Grose the housekeeper about the mysterious visions. The explanation could not be more disquieting [listen -- Variation IV: Act 1 Scene 5 -- The Window]. Quint had also made free with the previous governess, Miss Jessel, since when both had died.

Lisa Milne (left) as The Governess with Diana Montague (Mrs Grose). © 2005 Opus Arte
Lisa Milne (left) as The Governess with Diana Montague (Mrs Grose). © 2005 Opus Arte

The Governess sings throughout her exacting part with skill and understanding. If she is less pretty and youthful than the libretto suggests, this hardly matters. Indeed a few extra years are no bad thing within this baleful household. She is of course enchanted with the high spirits of the two children, wonderfully demonstrated in 'The Lesson' of Scene 6, when Miles reels off masculine Latin words in '-is', incidentally teaching me in triumphant conclusion the word for dormouse [listen -- Variation V: Act 1 Scene 6 -- The Lesson]. It is not long, though, before Miss Jessel materialises on the far side of a lake in desire for Flora.

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Copyright © 17 March 2005 Robert Anderson, Lebanon


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