Get a taste of the production in this trailer:
Need to knowHamlet was written between 1599 and 1602. It was Shakespeare’s longest play, making the task of adapting it into an opera an enormous challenge for composer Brett Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn. In an interview with The Telegraph, Brett said:
‘When I saw this huge mountain in front of me, I have to admit I was vaguely perturbed. People would say things like “Hamlet, eh? That’s rather… big”.’
—Brett Dean, Composer
Shakespeare’s Hamlet exists in three original versions – the first so-called ‘bad’ quarto, the second ‘good’ quarto and the First Folio, the most fully realised version of the play. For Matthew Jocelyn, these rewrites were liberating:
‘There is no such thing as Hamlet. There is no definitive text of Hamlet upon which all scholars agree, and all people of the theatre agree, and so we just allowed ourselves to pick and choose.’
—Matthew Jocelyn, Librettist
Want to brush up on the story of Hamlet? Our animation tells the tale in under two minutes:
Why this production?
Glyndebourne Tour productions provide an opportunity for audiences to hear a cast of emerging talent and Hamlet is no exception. British tenor David Butt Philip, who performed the role of Laertes in the Festival premiere, is moving on to sing the title role on Tour. Talking about his involvement in Hamlet, David said:
‘It’s still relatively rare for major companies to commission large-scale new works, so it’s an intriguing project to be involved with… Currently I am revising the Shakespeare, which I haven’t read since school!’
—David Butt Philip, Hamlet
Ophelia will be sung by British soprano Jennifer France who was recently nominated in the Young Singer category at the International Opera Awards 2017.
Cast and creative team
David Butt Philip and Jennifer France star as Hamlet and Ophelia. Jennifer France photo © Nick James
Hamlet is Australian composer, Brett Dean’s second opera, his first was an adaptation of Peter Carey’s novel Bliss, which premiered at Sydney Opera House in 2010. Brett originally trained as a viola player with the Australian Youth Orchestra.
Brett is joined by fellow Australian Neil Armfield as Director. Neil has directed numerous productions for Opera Australia and is also an acclaimed film director.
David Butt Philip (Hamlet) and Jennifer France (Ophelia) will be joined by British mezzo-soprano Louise Winter (Gertrude), British baritone William Dazeley (Claudius), Welsh tenor Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts (Polonius), British tenor Rupert Charlesworth (Laertes), Irish baritone Gavan Ring (Horatio) and British countertenors James Hall (Guildenstern) and Rupert Enticknap (Rosencrantz).
Rupert Enticknap reprises the role of Rosencrantz from the Festival production, and was a finalist in the 2017 Operalia World Opera Competition.
The production will be conducted by British conductor Duncan Ward.
Things to look out for
Brett Dean’s treatment of Ophelia as a strong woman is intriguing. In his Daily Telegraph interview Dean said:
‘Nothing can be more clichéd than depictions of madness on stage. So often, Ophelia is this weak and wavering character in a long white shift, but when you look at the text, she is actually a strong personality who gives as good as she gets. The key, for me, was to get to the core of her collapse, rather than to show her as this weak girl who has no resistance. There is a firmness to her which suddenly snaps.’
—Brett Dean, Composer
Hamlet features a much larger variety of instruments than usual, creating a richly textured and highly atmospheric soundscape. Sounds will also be created with some unconventional means, for example using sheets of foil as seen in the photo below from the London Philharmonic Orchestra:
See Hamlet at a venue near you this autumn
Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre
Norwich, Theatre Royal
Milton Keynes Theatre
Plymouth, Theatre Royal