Publicity still for CU Opera production of The Turn of the Screw. (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Author: Corinne Baud

Eklund Opera wraps up season with operatic ghost story

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Eklund Opera Program will present the haunting “The Turn of the Screw,” an operatic thriller, in the the Imig Music Building’s Music Theatre April 25-28.

“‘The Turn of the Screw’ is a spine-chilling tale about the fight over the souls and innocence of two children,” said Music Director Jeremy Reger. “The audience is taken on a mysterious ride into the English countryside, with incredibly atmospheric music that flows seamlessly from scene to scene.”

The twelve-note “Screw” musical theme that precedes each scene, combined with other haunting musical elements of bells and gongs, bring the horror and mystery of this classic ghost story to life.

Originally written as a novella by Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw” concludes the literary theme of the 2018-19 Eklund Opera season. In 1954, Benjamin Britten adapted the novella into “one of the most colorful, interesting and complex chamber operas in the repertoire,” said Reger.

With a small cast of six and an orchestra of 13, “The Turn of the Screw” highlights a wide range of voices and offers a soloist approach for each player.

“It uses all different sorts of voice types,” said Eklund Opera Program Director Leigh Holman (also set to direct). “There are big voice types for the adults, who will be cast by our graduate and master’s students, while undergraduate students will be cast for the smaller voice types of the children.”

Such opera productions are particularly beneficial for undergraduate students, who don’t often have the opportunity to explore featured roles.

“The ability to go through the whole process of the production is incomparable. From learning the music to staging and all other production elements, it stretches and challenges you to grow as a student,” said piano and vocal performance double major Sophia Zervas. Zervas will play Flora, the young girl, in the Thursday and Saturday performances.

“It’s also fun to be playing a different character than I’ve ever played,” said Zervas. “At first Flora seems innocent, but soon she becomes bratty and malicious. I’m excited to see how Dr. Holman stages the production to show the various character motives combined with the eerie elements of this horror story.”

“The Turn of the Screw” runs April 25-28 in the Music Theatre. Tickets start at $20.