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Living up to his description in the German press as ‘ein Shootingstar‘, the young British conductor Daniel Harding has taken another leap in his meteoric rise to the top with Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw. Along with the sure hand of Luc Bondy as director, Harding comes to Edinburgh with a trail of critical acclaim following the production’s first performances at the Aix-En-Provence Festival in summer 2001.

‘It was one of the most successful opera productions at Aix last year’, says festival director Brian McMaster, clearly delighted to have it, complete with the renowned Mahler Chamber Orchestra, as part of the Edinburgh programme. Harding‘s name might not yet have the universal familiarity as that of Simon Rattle, but it was through him that early chances came. Assistant to Rattle between 1993 and 1994 with his City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Harding went on to assist Claudio Abbado and made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic at the 1996 Berlin Festival. He was the youngest ever conductor at the BBC Proms that same year.

Musically and dramatically, Turn of the Screw, which is based on Henry James’ supernatural tale of the same name, is one of the most tightly written of Britten’s operas. With overwhelming edge of the seat chill, it tells of two children Miles and Flora who are left to the care of a governess and housekeeper. But back to their 19th century English country house home come the ghosts of the former manservant and previous governess, Peter Quint and Miss Jessel (sung here by the Scottish born soprano Marie McLaughlin), to haunt the children with penetrating evil, culminating in the murder of Miles by Quint. Even though the new governess fights for the souls of her young charges, it is the gripping issue of childhood innocence corrupted by satanic and sinister dark forces which dominates the piece. At a time when the heart of contemporary society is faced with the stark reality of such torments, Britten’s powerful and disturbing opera will be even more so today than ever before. (Carol Main) I ".71.: “37127:: -' I ‘I


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