A haunting performance

Israeli soprano Noa Danon plays the lead role in the chilling opera ‘The Turn of the Screw’.

A haunting performance (photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)
A haunting performance
(photo credit: Yossi Zwecker)
The Turn of the Screw, a chamber opera composed by Benjamin Britten based on Henry James’s novella of the same name, is the new English-language production of the Israeli Opera. The cast is a mixture of Israeli and international vocalists. David Stern, the artistic director of the Israeli Opera, in turn with young Israeli maestro Ethan Schmeisser, conducts the production, which was originally created for the British Opera North Company.
Israeli soprano Noa Danon, who is currently based in Germany, returns home to perform the role of the governess. Born in Israel and educated at the Buchman – Mehta School of Music, Danon continued on to the Opera Studio for young singers, managed by the Israeli Opera. She took part in several international competitions, among them the 2008 Hans Gabor Belvedere Voice Competition in Vienna. After winning second prize in the operetta category, she was accepted to the Magdeburg Theater in Germany as a member of the ensemble and since has appeared in several leading operatic roles.
“I sing about five roles a season,” says Danon, “and for a young singer like me, the Magdeburg Theater is a wonderful place to start an international career. Although this is a German opera house, the singers, as well as the conductors, come from all over the world. The overall level is very high, and it is a sheer pleasure to work there.”
She goes on to explain that although “for Noa the singer, Germany is a great place, for Noa a young Israeli, it is a bit less so. This is not our mentality; people are a bit cold and a bit closed, and the family is missing. That said, the cost of living is very low there, and since I am a young mother and somebody needs to take care of our little child, we have decided that it is my husband who takes ‘paternity leave’ – we can manage on my singer’s salary. So if it were possible to combine these two advantages and to stay here, I would have preferred to live and work in Israel; but meanwhile, this does not sound realistic.”
In regard to her role in the current production, Danon says. “This is a very special piece for only six singers and no choir. This actually is a horror story. My character – the governess, who takes care of two orphan children in a mansion – sees ghosts and is quite fearful about the chidren’s safety. The tension gradually increases. For me, this is one of the most intriguing and challenging roles I’ve ever sung. I have performed the role at Magdeburg, but now that I have a child of my own, the feelings of the governess are much closer to me, and I hope it will be audible in my performance.”
The Turn of the Screw runs at the Opera House in Tel Aviv from February 12 – 22. For more details: www.israelopera.