The Turn of the Screw is a 20th century English chamber opera composed by Benjamin Britten with a libretto by Myfanwy Piper, "wife of the artist John Piper, who had been a friend of the composer since 1935 and had provided designs for several of the operas". The libretto is based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The opera was commissioned by the Venice Biennale and given its world premiere on September 14, 1954, at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice. The original recording was made during that year, with the composer himself conducting.
At the time of the première, the opera was described as one of the most dramatically appealing English operas. In two acts, the opera has a prologue and sixteen scenes, each preceded by a variation on the twelve-note 'Screw' theme. Typically of Britten, the music mixes tonality and dissonance, with Britten's recurrent use of a twelve-tone figure being perhaps a nod to the approach of Arnold Schoenberg. Thematically, the play gives a central role to a line borrowed from William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming": "The ceremony of innocence is drowned."