On Saturday, October 3, 2015 the Columbia Festival of the Arts, as part of their Fall Festival: The British Invasion, presented the Hub Opera Ensemble’s production of The Turn of the Screw. This is an opera written in 1954 by Benjamin Britten with Libretto by Myfawny Piper based on the novella from 1898 by Henry James.
James wrote during the Victorian Era of The British Empire, and was an American living in Europe. His work was provocative for its time. The Turn of the Screw deals with lust and out of wedlock sexual relations while hinting at pedophilia and sadomasochism.
There is a new governess at Bly House. Through a letter, she explains that her charges, a young boy named Miles and a girl named Flora, are being plagued by the ghosts of their last governess and her lover. These two dead souls are trying to take the souls of the two children. The new governess saves the Flora’s life and Miles’ soul.
The Hub Opera Ensemble is made up of mainly younger artists, getting experience in a major role They were all exceptional. Emily Riley, a native of the DC Metro area, plays the Governess. Her soprano voice hits all the right notes in conveying the fear and concern she has for the ghosts and her charges, respectively.
Miles is played by a female, Lindsay Paradise. She does well portraying the frightened and confused child. The same is true for Keely Borland as the young Flora, who brings the energy and innocence as we see her change to madness as the evil forces take hold.
Tanya Ruth Langlois appears as Mrs. Grose the housekeeper who relates the strange story of the manor, the ghosts and in the end is instrumental in saving Flora. Her voice is very expressive and in one scene the Governess, the children and Mrs. Grose all blend in a wonderful musical combination and that is one of the highlights of the performance. Katie Baughman sings marvelously in the role of Miss Jessel, the deceased and vengeful past governess, and Nicholas Simpson opens with the Prologue and then masterfully portrays the evil Quint.
Musical Director Andrew Rosenfeld is also the musical director of the Hub Opera Ensemble. In this production, he artfully blends these wonderful young voices with a superb orchestral arrangement.
Also noteworthy are the period costumes created by Cynthia Wham. It was interesting to see how she dressed the “children” who, as stated, were portrayed by adult singers in this production.
Congratulations to the Hub for bringing this wonderful production to our local area. Thanks again to Columbia Festival of the Arts for bringing us their exceptional programming.
The Columbia Festival for the Arts’ The Winter Festival: Beyond the Blues will take place on February 12-14, 2016. So if you missed it this time, be sure to be part of the festivities then. If you came to the Fall Festival, I know you will be ready to beat the wintertime blues then.
Columbia Festival of the Arts’ ‘British Invasion’ Explodes This Weekend 10/2-4 by Robert Neal Marshall.