Wendy Lesser at Threepenny Review:
So many things must be done right for an opera to turn out well that it’s amazing any of them succeed at all. The composer has to be a good musician, of course, but he must also be in sympathy with the librettist and, if there is a separate source author, with that writer as well. Once their initial job is done, the creation then gets handed over to a whole other set of people who can mess it up: the director, the set, costume, and lighting designers, the conductor, the orchestra members, and of course the singers. In most operas, these onstage performers need to be able to act as well as sing; it also helps if they look right for their parts. The list of potential pitfalls goes on and on—the acoustics of the hall, the size and nature of the audience, the comfort or discomfort of the seats. It’s endless, and daunting.
Before last summer, I had never even heard of Opera Holland Park, so I was admittedly taking a risk in attending their production of The Turn of the Screw during my short London stay. But I was curious to see this Britten opera, which had thus far evaded me—plus word-of-mouth on the production was good, and ticket prices were reasonable, especially compared to Covent Garden or Glyndebourne.