If you had to pick a perfect opera for Halloween, Benjamin Britten’s 1954 The Turn of the Screw might be it. There’s definitely a haunted house, but in librettist Myfanwy Piper’s adaptation, as in Henry James’s 1898 novella, mastery lies in mystery. What really happened at scary Bly House? Ghosts? A more mundane human-perpetrated evil? Mere insanity?
You can puzzle it out next weekend, Oct. 30 and Nov. 1, when Eugene Opera brings Britten’s potently scored Gothic chamber opera to the Hult Center’s ideally sized Soreng Theater, whose intimate confines suit both the composer’s intended small instrumental and vocal ensemble (13 players, six singers, including Portland’s splendid Beth Madsen Bradford) and the story’s creepily claustrophobic atmosphere.
The plot, a little reminiscent of The Shining, involves an innocent governess who arrives at an isolated manor to take care of a pair of kids … and then things start to get spooky as shadowy figures from the past return, all accompanied by some of the finest 20th-century opera music ever written. The story itself has become only more relevant as child abuse and neglect have begun to emerge from the shadows that incubated them a century or more ago. Check out the talks about the story and production 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the downtown library and before each performance in the Hult lobby.
For an even eerier Day of the Dead experience, head over to Eugene Masonic Cemetery Saturday afternoon, Oct. 24, to hear the Early Music vocal ensemble Vox Resonat sing appropriately necromantic memorial music by Renaissance and Baroque composers Monteverdi, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Byrd, Scarlatti, Josquin, Gesualdo and Gombert.
At 6:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 25, just steps away at Aasen-Hull Hall, the UO music school brings back its annual family friendly Halloween SpookTastic featuring the UO Trombone Choir, Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble and Apocalyptic Brass playing music by J.S. Bach, Michael Jackson (guess which piece?), cuts from The Nightmare Before Christmas and more.
The tubas return 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 29, with UO alum Luke Storm leading the students in new music for low brass. Another UO alum returns to haunt his old school (musically at least) 7:30 pm Monday, Nov. 2, when pianist Peter Gach plays three pieces written for him by former Duck Benjamin Krause at Beall Hall. Still another former Eugenean who’s gone on to success in the classical music world, flutist Elizabeth Rowe, gives a Beall recital 7:30 Wednesday, Nov. 4, featuring chamber music by Aaron Copland, Mozart and Nielsen.
Krause is among the composers involved in one of the season’s coolest concerts at Beall 7:30 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27. The Oregon Multimedia Project, founded by recent UO grad and violinist Wyatt True, paired Krause and fellow UO music school composition grad J.M. Gerraughty to write new music that complemented images of Oregon. Photographs of Portland, the Willamette Valley, the Oregon dunes and more will be projected while True and pianist David Servias play the four new compositions as well as a new violin sonata by recent UO grad Alexander LaFollett. They’ll also perform it at Benson Hall at OSU, where Servias teaches, on Sunday, Oct. 25.
This Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 pm, Beall offers music by Franz Liszt when students of UO prof Alexandre Dossin tag-team his epic ”Transcendental Etudes,” which are scary enough for any pianist.
At 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 23, Beall hosts the Chinese-Canadian quartet Red Chamber, whose influences range from bluegrass to Balkan, gypsy to jazz, and who play everything from ancient Tang dynasty court music to contemporary Chinese and Canadian sounds on traditional Chinese instruments, including the zheng zither, ruan lute and more.
If you want to drive away all those evil spirits, head to Beall at 2:30 pm Sunday, Oct. 25, to hear Eugene Vocal Arts and the veteran Eugene Concert Orchestra perform Haydn’s gorgeous choral orchestral masterpiece St. Cecilia Mass, named for the patron saint of music.