'a magnificent new opera... don’t miss it'

The Times

'Glyndebourne’s latest commission is unmissable — this is the operatic event of the year'

The Sunday Times

'Brilliant music, rapturously received'

The Daily Telegraph
  • Details

    In this insightful take on Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Hamlet is tormented by conflicting desires, demands and doubts.

    When he’s haunted by his dead father, things escalate quickly and Hamlet has to make an important decision: to be or not to be?

    Brett Dean’s Hamlet hits the Tour

    Shakespeare’s quintessential tragedy has been given new life in a rare world premiere in Festival 2017 before transferring straight to the Tour in autumn 2017.

    Audiences will be able to see Composer Brett Dean and Librettist Matthew Jocelyn’s new commission of Hamlet at Glyndebourne, Canterbury, Norwich, Milton Keynes and Plymouth.

    Brett Dean’s richly atmospheric and deeply dramatic music captures the essence and timelessness of Shakespeare’s story, in which Hamlet navigates a maze of love and madness, murder and revenge, on his quest for the truth.

    Was it really his uncle Claudius who killed his father, the King of Denmark, to seize the dead king’s crown and wife?

    The innovatively orchestrated score buoys Matthew Jocelyn’s libretto, which consists only of words and phrases written by or attributed to Shakespeare, to bring the tragedy to its inevitable conclusion.

    See Hamlet at a venue near you

    21-27 October

    3 November
    Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre
    Book now

    17 November
    Norwich, Theatre Royal
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    24 November
    Milton Keynes Theatre
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    1 December
    Plymouth, Theatre Royal
    Book now

    Pre-performance talks

    Our pre-performance talks provide a bite-size overview of the opera that follows. Join us for a bite-sized introduction to the featured opera. Each talk is presented by an opera expert and lasts 30 minutes.

    Tuesday 24 October at 3.00pm
    Ebert Room, Glyndebourne – Find out more

    Friday 3 November
    Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre

    Friday 17 November
    Norwich, Theatre Royal

    Friday 24 November
    Milton Keynes Theatre

    Friday 1 December
    Plymouth, Theatre Royal

    More details to be announced soon. Sign up to our newsletter for updates.

  • Cast and creative team

    Creative team

    Composer Brett Dean
    Librettist Matthew Jocelyn
    Conductor Duncan Ward
    Director Neil Armfield
    Revival Director Lloyd Wood
    Set Designer Ralph Myers
    Costume Designer Alice Babidge
    Movement Director Denni Sayers
    Lighting Designer Jon Clark
    Revival Lighting Designer David Manion
    Fight Director Nicholas Hall
    Dramaturg Cori Ellison

    The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra
    Leader Richard Milone

    The Glyndebourne Chorus
    Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins

    Cast in order of appearance

    Hamlet David Butt Philip
    Claudius William Dazeley
    Laertes Rupert Charlesworth
    Ophelia Jennifer France
    Polonius Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts
    Horatio Gavan Ring
    Marcellus/Player4/Lucianus John Mackenzie-Lavansch
    Gertrude Louise Winter
    Ghost Of Old Hamlet/Player 1/Gravedigger Brian Bannatyne-Scott
    Rosencrantz Rupert Enticknap
    Guildenstern James Hall
    Player 2 John Findon
    Player 3 Anthony Osborne
    Classical Accordionist Miloš Milivojević

    Ashley Bain
    Anthony Kurt Gabel
    Ralf Higgins
    Mark Ruddick

    Music by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Publishers Ltd.

  • Dates and times


    VenueDateCurtain upShort intervalCurtain down
    Glyndebourne 21 October 20174.00pm5.47pm7.13pm
    Glyndebourne 24 October 20174.00pm5.47pm 7.13pm
    Glyndebourne 27 October 20177.00pm8.47pm10.13pm


    Book now

    Canterbury, The Marlowe Theatre 3 November 2017


    Book now

    Norwich, Theatre Royal 17 November 2017

    Milton Keynes

    Book now

    Milton Keynes Theatre 24 November 2017


    Book now

    Plymouth, Theatre Royal 1 December 2017
  • Synopsis

    Act I

    Elsinore, Denmark

    King Hamlet has died, mourned by his son, Prince Hamlet of Denmark. The King’s funeral is followed fast upon by the marriage of his widow Gertrude, to his brother, Claudius. Hamlet is deeply disturbed by his father’s untimely death and his mother’s ‘o’er hasty marriage’, a state aggravated by the appearance of King Hamlet’s ghost, informing Hamlet that he was in fact murdered by his brother, now husband to Gertrude and King of Denmark.

    The dead King asks that his son revenge his death by killing Claudius.

    Unsure as to what to do whilst adopting erratic behaviour, Hamlet rejects his soul-mate and lover Ophelia, and dismisses his former classmates, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, summoned by Claudius to Elsinore to help discover the cause of Hamlet’s apparent madness.

    A group of players arrive in Elsinore. Hamlet asks them to perform a scene mimicking the murder of King Hamlet by his brother. Claudius reacts violently to the performance, proof in Hamlet’s eyes of his stepfather’s guilt. Called to his mother’s chamber to explain his actions, Hamlet comes upon Claudius deep in prayer, yet finds himself unable to kill him.

    Discovering Polonius, Ophelia’s father, spying on him in his mother’s chamber, Hamlet kills him, proceeding then to berate his mother for her shamelessness and debauchery. His father’s ghost appears, reminding Hamlet of his initial mission to revenge his death.

    Act II

    Laertes, Polonius’s son, returns to Elsinore to avenge his father’s death, threatening Claudius and his kingship. Claudius manages to allay Laertes’ violence by convincing him that Hamlet is the guilty one: together, Claudius and Laertes conspire to kill him.

    Ophelia appears, apparently driven mad by Hamlet’s rejection and the death of her father. This only serves to harden Laertes’ resolve for vengeance, as does, moments later, Ophelia’s death – she has drowned in a nearby stream.

    Hamlet and friend Horatio turn up unwittingly at Ophelia’s funeral, and upon learning of herdeath, Hamlet provokes Laertes.

    Through the intermediary of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and according to the plan concocted with Claudius, Laertes challenges Hamlet to a duel. Hamlet accepts the challenge.

    Many deaths ensue.

    By Matthew Jocelyn