Argentina Britten, Turn of the Screw: Soloists and Orchestra of Juventus Lyrica, André Dos Santos (conductor), Teatro Avenida, Buenos Aires. 22.6.2012. (JSJ)
Governess: Macarena Valenzuela
Mrs Grose: Soledad de la Rosa
Miss Jessel: Eugenia Fuente
Quint: Carlos Ullán
Flora: Mariana Mederos / Laura Álvarez Renedo / Romina Paillasse
Miles: Cecilia Pastawski
Prologue: Mariano Spagnolo
Director/costumes: María Jaunarena
Sets/lighting: Gonzalo Córdova
The Turn of the Screw is one of Britten’s most often produced operas, certainly for this reviewer, but with past productions failing to adequately engage, enthusiasm for another was muted. Quite unnecessarily as it turned out, for this well considered first production from María Jaunarena, daughter of Juventus founders Ana d’Anna and Horacio Jaunarea.
Simple but effective scenery, along with appropriate lighting and dress, ensured a good foundation for this dark story of the two children Flora and Miles, under the care of a new governess and the housekeeper Mrs Grose, and their association with the now dead Quint and Miss Jessel, who haunt the household as ghosts after previously working there.
The two act work, each act comprised of eight scenes, is preceded by a brief prologue, setting out the background to the story, which was apparently added by Britten to avoid the work appearing too short, and was here well sung by Mario Spagnolo.
With the chamber nature of the work, each performer – singer and musician alike – is a key element and all performed their part. Chilean soprano Macarena Valenzuela was an expressive and beautifully sung governess and Soledad de Rosa a strong sounding but helpless housekeeper. The two children, Miles played by mezzo Cecilia Pastawaski and Flora by Mariana Mederos, both sounded and looked their parts with exaggerated child-like movements. As Quint tenor Carlos Ullán exuded tension and Eugenia Fuente made for a debauched Miss Jessel.
The 15-strong orchestra played with accuracy under Brazilian André Dos Santos. And the English pronunciation was mostly satisfactory, with the surtitles helping to elucidate the words that were completely swallowed.
Jonathan Spencer Jones