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The Turn of the Screw

Based on Henry James’s chilling novella, Britten‘s The Turn of the Screw tells the story of a governess, desperate to protect her children from evil as they experience strange encounters at a remote country house.

ENO Performance History

2017/18 season

Read the introductory guide to The Turn of the Screw

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Synopsis

The Turn of the Screw traces the story of a young, inexperienced governess who is charged with the care of Miles and Flora, two small orphaned children abandoned by their uncle at his grand country house.

The governess sees the figure of an unknown man on the tower and his face at the window; she also sees a woman. Mrs Grose, the housekeeper identifies the man as Peter Quint (the master’s valet) and the woman as Miss Jessel (the former governess); but both are dead.

A subtle, self-conscious exploration of the haunted house of Victorian culture, The Turn of the Screw can be read as a straightforward frightening ghost story. But are the apparitions of Quint and Miss Jessel what they seem? James imbues his text with sexual and social unease, which give the story an eerily equivocal atmosphere. Might these apparitions actually be in the governess’s head?