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LA Opera Goes Esoteric With 'Turn Of The Screw'

Michael Kelper Meo and William Burden in 'Turn of the Screw.' (Photo by Robert Millard courtesy of Los Angeles Opera.)
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Benjamin Britten's potent adaptation of the classic Henry James ghost story Turn of the Screw is currently playing at the Los Angeles Opera. The production features a flawless cast, stunning set, disturbing plot, intriguing score, and a twelve year old casanova with an angelic voice.

Turn of the Screw is a psychological thriller with an intangible esoteric quality that gives the audience plenty of room for speculation, wonder, and interpretation. Stage director Francesca Gilpin perfectly evokes the misty, otherworldly sensibilities of James's eerie setting with ethereal lighting, deliberate timing, and meticulous balance between orchestra, singers, and set.

Patricia Racette leads the cast in the role of the governess. She has a strong, robust voice that grounds the fleeting roles of the supporting cast. Tamara Wilson and William Burden are truly frightening cast as demonic ghosts, yet their rich intertwined voices resonate with buttery, superb complexity. Twelve year old Los Angeles Opera newcomer Michael Kelper Meo, has an incredibly confident stage presence (think Frank Sinatra crossed with Vito Corleone...but a little kid) substantial acting skills, and a clear, well-groomed voice that penetrates the mind and heart with sonorous sublimity.

Attentively conducted by James Conlon, Turn of the Screw is a matrix of echoing voices, copious dissonance, and evocative orchestral pulsing contrasted with invigorating chimed tones or the delicate plucking of a single harp. Britten's orchestration pits stringed instruments that mimic a racing heart beat against the earthy resonance of a lone double reed to reflect the good-versus-evil action taking place on the stage.

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Los Angeles Opera's Turn of the Screw is playing through March 30, 2011 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets can be purchased online through Los Angeles Opera or via phone at 213-972-8001.