THE TURN OF THE SCREW 1969 Washington Opera 1982 Eastman School of Music

An opera by BENJAMIN BRITTEN based on a short story by HENRY JAMES


In 1968 Ronald Chase was asked by Richard Pearlman, then head of the Washington Opera, to design a production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.  Pearlman had seen a sculpture of Chase’s at the home of the composer Conrad Susa, and felt that he was right to bring innovation to the production.  Chase agreed on the condition that he would be allowed to incorporate film and slide projection.  Chase used as a springboard the film and sculptural work of the great Czech designer Josef Svoboda, which he seen at the world’s fair in 1958.  A year earlier Gordon Compton and Emelio Ardelino had used film for the Joffery Ballet’s Astarte and were creating a media production with Frank Corsaro for The Makropolos Affair at the New York City Opera. These three productions marked the beginning of development that would bring film and slide projections into the mainstream of opera and theater in the U.S.  When Chase and Corsaro began work on Koanga the next year, it began a thirty year collaboration in developing the use of film and projection on stage.