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In the first scene of Act 2, Quint and Jessel bitterly exchange their mutual frustration [listen -- Variation VIII: Act 2 Scene 1 -- Colloquy and Soliloquy]. Quint is after a young friend to follow where he leads, Miss Jessel for one to share her woe. The mounting horror of her situation all but persuaded the Governess to abandon her charge and leave the poisoned place; but when she enters the schoolroom, she finds Miss Jessel seated at her desk [listen -- Variation X: Act 2 Scene 3 -- Miss Jessel]. This direct confrontation nerves her to challenge the ghost and stiffens her resolve not to abandon the children. She regards Miss Jessel as the lesser evil, but urges Mrs Grose to take Flora away and explain the situation to the children's guardian.

Mark Padmore as Peter Quint. © 2005 Opus Arte
Mark Padmore as Peter Quint. © 2005 Opus Arte

The Governess is now alone with Miles and in open conflict against Quint for his body and soul. On Quint's persuasion, Miles has already removed and read a letter written by the Governess to his guardian. As she tries to get Miles to disclose what may be on his mind, the invisible Quint seeks to seduce the boy with his characteristic melismata. Yes, Miles will tell her, but not yet. Gradually, however, she prevails on him to declare the name and curse Quint as a devil [listen -- Variation XV: Act 2 Scene 8 -- Miles]. Now, though, the boy's heart has stopped, and the agonising drama, so splendidly captured musically and visually in this gripping performance, is done.

Lisa Milne as The Governess with Nicholas Kirby Johnson as Miles. © 2005 Opus Arte
Lisa Milne as The Governess with Nicholas Kirby Johnson as Miles. © 2005 Opus Arte

[watch and listen to a sequence from Variation XV using the player below -- needs an Apple Quicktime plugin -- high speed connection preferred].

Copyright © 17 March 2005 Robert Anderson, Lebanon


Benjamin Britten: The Turn of the Screw

OA 0907 D DVD9 16:9 anamorphic NTSC region 0 (worldwide) LPCM Stereo/Dolby digital surround NEW RELEASE 117'0" 2005 Opus Arte

Mark Padmore, Quint; Lisa Milne, The Governess; Catrin Wyn Davies, Miss Jessel; Diana Montague, Mrs Grose; Nicholas Kirby Johnson, Miles; Caroline Wise, Flora; Katie Mitchell, television director; Alison Chitty, production designer; Nick Morris, director of photography; Fiona Morris, television producer; Jessica Lawrence, executive producer; Ferenc van Damme, DVD producer; Hans Petri, DVD executive producer; City of London Sinfonia; Richard Hickox, conductor

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): The Turn of the Screw Op 54 (1954), chamber opera in two acts and a prologue, with libretto by Myfanwy Piper Evans after Henry James. Extra features: synopsis; cast gallery


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