'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

    Be part of a major new operatic work – join us for the world premiere of Brett Dean’s new opera based on Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy.

    Best availability on 27 and 30 June.

    You can see Hamlet live in cinemas and online on Thursday 6 July.

    You can also see Hamlet as part of Tour 2017 this autumn at Glyndebourne, Canterbury, Woking, Norwich, Milton Keynes and Plymouth.

    A story of betrayal, revenge and madness

    To be, or not to be. This is Hamlet’s dilemma, and the essence of Shakespeare’s most famous and arguably greatest work, given new life in operatic form in this original Glyndebourne commission.

    Thoughts of murder and revenge drive Hamlet when he learns that it was his uncle Claudius who killed his father, the King of Denmark, then seized his father’s crown and wife.

    But Hamlet’s vengeance vies with the question: is suicide a morally valid deed in an unbearably painful world?

    ‘The themes of life and death, love and betrayal have opera written all over them.’
    —Brett Dean, Composer

    Shakespeare’s Hamlet reconfigured for a world premiere

    Dean’s colourful, energetic, witty and richly lyrical music expertly captures the modernity of Shakespeare’s timeless tale, while also exploiting the traditional operatic elements of arias, ensembles and choruses.

    Matthew Jocelyn’s inspired libretto is pure Shakespeare, adhering to the Bard’s narrative thread but abridging, reconfiguring and interweaving it into motifs that highlight the main dramatic themes: death, madness, the impossibility of certainty and the complexities of action.

    Sung in English with English supertitles

    Enrich your experience

    Insider talk
    Hamlet – creating a world premiere, Thursday 6 July.

    Pre-performance talk
    Join us for a bite-sized overview of the opera from a musical expert on Sunday 11 June.

    Hamlet is generously supported by The Monument Trust

    World premiere supported by a Syndicate of Individuals

  • Cast and creative team

    Creative team

    Composer Brett Dean
    Librettist Matthew Jocelyn
    Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
    Director Neil Armfield
    Set Designer Ralph Myers
    Costume Designer Alice Babidge
    Movement Director Denni Sayers
    Lighting Designer Jon Clark
    Fight Director Nick Hall
    Sound Consultant Myles Eastwood
    Dramaturg Cori Ellison

    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Leader Vesselin Gellev

    The Glyndebourne Chorus
    Chorus Master Jeremy Bines

    Electronic sounds
    Percussion Timothy Constable, Cello Benjamin Schwartz
    Clarinet Francesco Celata, Sound Technician Bob Scott

    Production Bob Scott and Brett Dean


    Hamlet Allan Clayton
    Claudius Rod Gilfry
    Laertes David Butt Philip
    Ophelia Barbara Hannigan
    Polonius Kim Begley
    Horatio Jacques Imbrailo
    Marcellus/Player 4 James Newby*+
    Gertrude Sarah Connolly
    Ghost of Old Hamlet/Player 1/Gravedigger
    John Tomlinson
    Rosencrantz Rupert Enticknap
    Guildenstern Christopher Lowrey
    Player 2 John Findon*+
    Player 3 Anthony Osborne*
    Accordionist james Crabb

    Actors Ashley Bain, Lucy Burns, Maddy Brennan, Russel Fine, Anthony Kurt Gabel, Ralf Higgins, Adrien Mastrosimone, Mark Ruddick, Colm Seery, Sirena Tocco

    *Soloist from The Glyndebourne Chorus
    + Jerwood Young Artist 2017

    By kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Publishers Ltd.

  • Dates and times


    Date Start Long interval Finish Price band
    Sun 11 June 4.45pm 6.25pm 9.15pm 4
    Tue 13 June 5.40pm 7.35pm 9.57pm 4
    Sat 17 June 5.40pm 7.35pm 9.57pm 4
    Wed 21 June 5.00pm 6.55pm 9.27pm 4
    Sat 24 June 5.00pm 6.55pm 9.27pm 4
    Tue 27 June 5.40pm 7.35pm 9.57pm 4
    Fri 30 June 5.40pm 7.35pm 9.57pm 4


    Date Start Long interval Finish Price band
    Thu 6 July 5.00pm 6.55pm 9.27pm 4

  • 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