Benjamin Britten

Opera in two acts with a prologue

WEBERN Sinfonietta

8.11. und 9.11.2023, 19.00 UHR


It is a curious story": A young woman is sent from the city to an English country estate to take care of two children as a governess ... The screw begins to turn. At first, the job seems like a beautiful dream to her, who wants to do everything right in her new position of responsibility, and the children seem like well-behaved, well-behaved angels - until she sees mysterious, unknown figures, who should actually no longer be in the house, indeed: no longer alive ... The screw continues to turn. The children's behavior also becomes more disturbing: they are only superficially innocent, have uncontrolled outbursts and it seems to the governess as if they are under the influence of the undead ... The screw turns further and further. The protagonist gets involved in the inexplicable events, tries to protect the children and herself from the intangible threat, finds no way out of her desperate anxiety, acts in a panic... The screw keeps turning - until it goes crazy in the end? In their chamber opera version (1954), Benjamin Britten and his librettist Myfanwy Piper translated the unresolved ambivalences of Henry James' novella (1898) into a claustrophobic musical theater work. Through the compositional structure of variations, we revolve around the nameless governess more and more, thinking on the one hand that we understand her and her perspectives, but on the other hand we repeatedly encounter boundaries, ambivalences, ambiguities. The unspoken, the concealed, the concealed-unpleasant, the hints and forebodings create situations in which interpersonal and personal abysses are discovered, transgressions are sounded out, guilt and innocence are negotiated, and power relations are deconstructed.

At the end, we are faced with the challenge of positioning ourselves - the personified prologue, who introduced the action at the beginning, has left the scene and does not return at the end. So even the conclusion Britten and Piper do not pronounce, they force us and our imagination to a moral judgment, however weighted, of what we have seen and heard (Benedikt Arnold).

Production: Benedikt Arnold (Diplom)
Musical direction: Hartmut Keil
Set design: Milagros Pia Del Pilar Salecker
Dramatury: Nikita Dubov
Assistant director: NN

Prologue | Jakob Gerbeth • Governess | Annie Ternström • Miles | Elisabeth Höhndorf  Flora | Jamie Petutschnig  Mrs. Grose | Brigitta Listra  Ms Jessel | Lucija Spevec  Quint | Thilo Cubasch