The Turn of the Screw: A Visually and Mentally Haunting Experience

Review of The Turn of the Screw at Seattle Opera. Written by TeenTix Press Corps Writer Sumeya Block and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Hannah Schoettmer!
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Seattle Opera's newest opera, an adaptation of the book The Turn of The Screw by Henry James, will leave you forever haunted by the spirits that reside in the Bly mansion. In mere minutes, we are staring into a somber world cast by phantom-like blue walls. What was most memorable to me in The Turn of The Screw was the attention put into the set. When looking at the stage, it was the little things I noticed, like the blue plaid design of the governesses skirt, or the haunting lights that illuminated the children’s mischievous faces. Seeing these set details, created by scenic designer Robert Dahlstrom, lighting designer Connie Yun, and production designer Adam Larsent, communicated to me the thoughts put into helping tell each piece of the story.

The Turn of the Screw by Seattle Opera. Photo by Philip Newton.

The set transported us into the world of a traditionally spooky haunted house. What begins as a brick wall against a gray background transforms into a stately home and a dreary lake. This wall gives us a glimpse into the lives of the two haunted souls who reside in the Bly Manor. This is very central to the story because everything we see is from the governess's perspective. Some may even say the governess is mad, which can be interpreted from the dialogue in the book. In turn, this wall represents the governess's mind and shows that perhaps some things have not played out the way we, the audience, have interpreted them to be. All this is woven together by some great lighting, one wall, and a powerful projector. In these scenes, color is used in a very clever and mysterious way. In Act One, the set is washed in a mundane gray that evokes a feeling of normality, or the very cliche saying “same old, same old.” As the story progresses, the color theme changes to undertones of blue. The transition to these colors gradually overwhelms the longer the governess stays at Bly Manor and the more invested we are in the plot. At the climax, we first catch a glimpse of the ghost of Peter Quint. His set is bathed in dark blue, despite being outside, foreshadowing our meeting him and hinting that there may be more to what we see. Later on, we see a chair washed in purple light, a murky lake with hidden secrets, and two twin beds left in the kind of darkness that makes you want to wrap a blanket around yourself and cower. These color choices and themes allude to a feeling of mystery and suspense that excites us and suggests a ghostly encounter by using colors that are mysterious and dark to remind us something's not quite right. These undertones also appear in the carefully curated clothing each character wears. My favorite costume, designed by the costume designer Deborah Trout, is that of Miss Jessel, consisted of an eerie plum colored dress.

The Turn of the Screw by Seattle Opera. Photo by Philip Newton.

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SPECIAL DEAL: 2 for $10 on Turn of the Screw

​Catch the last weekend of performances at a special price for TeenTix Members!


Get in the spooky mood with this dark, mysterious opera!

Our generous friends at Seattle Opera are offering a special deal for their current production of The Turn of the Screw: TeenTix Members can see this opera at the 2 for $10 price at either of the closing weekend performances:

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Seattle Opera’s: La Traviata

An opera for die-hard-opera-fanatics and opera-newbies alike!

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After attending Seattle Opera’s: La Traviata, I can officially say that I have been to the Opera!

As a die-hard-theater-goer, I figured it was high time I had my first operatic experience, but I was unsure of where or what to attend as a newcomer. Luckily, I had the perfect friend to phone! I immediately rang my wonderful sister- a trained singer, an opera fanatic and a Senior in the Audio Engineering Program at Evergreen State college- and out of her mouth came five beautiful words “Let’s go see La Traviata.” She went on to explain that the easy-to-follow plot was exactly what a first-time opera attender would want, as well as, La Traviata was a classic that she’d been meaning to see live. With this, I knew we had to attend the show. When the fourteenth finally rolled around, we spent THREE HOURS doing our hair and makeup while listening to Aidan Lang’s La Traviata podcast (which the Seattle Opera oh-so-courteously emailed me prior to the show) on repeat. The time had finally come to strut our way to Mccaw Hall and take our seats in the stunning theater. Within moments of the first set of traditional red curtains being drawn, I was hooked- ready to delve into Violetta and Alfredo’s passionate story of lover’s heartache. The minimalist set- one pair of red curtains after another- allowed me to lock in on the plot and the singing, and Corinne Winters’ (Violetta) & Joshua Dennis’s (Alfredo) voices did not disappoint: seemingly soaring through the packed house with precision and ease. As well as the ensemble/party-goers looming presence over Violetta & Alfredo’s relationship was ever-present in the group-orientated choreography; along with, the push, pull and heartbreak of the young couples love being dynamically translated through the entrances and exits of existent/nonexistent red curtains. La Traviata’s fast pace and beautiful symbolism kept the audience on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the one-hour, fifty-minute production, and was the perfect Opera to see as a ‘newby’. Afterwards, I picked my sister’s brain to get an experienced Opera attender’s opinion and, shockingly enough, we agreed on a plethora of things. This experience just goes to show that whether you are a die-hard-theater-goer or a die-hard-opera-fanatic art is universal. I couldn’t have asked to see a better first-opera, and I’m very excited to farther expand my knowledge of opera. Also, If you haven’t had a taste of the opera scene yet either, La Traviata is playing at Mccaw Hall until January 28th, don't miss it!

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Interview: Speight Jenkins, General Director, Seattle Opera


In September, after three decades of wowing Seattle audiences with amazing opera productions, award-winning Seattle Opera legend Speight Jenkins will step down as the General Director. I got a chance to sit down with him and gain some insight into his role as General Director, what he does, how he got there, his best advice for teens looking into arts careers, and some great advice for first-time opera goers.

Katelyn H. You are the General Director of the Opera. What does that mean?

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