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Brett Dean's "Hamlet" Arrives at the Met

originally published: 04/07/2022

Brett Dean

(NEW YORK, NY) -- From May 13 to June 9, the Metropolitan Opera presents the North American premiere of composer Brett Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn’s acclaimed opera Hamlet, starring tenor Allan Clayton, soprano Brenda Rae, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, baritone Rod Gilfry, and bass-baritone John Relyea, conducted by Nicholas Carter.

Dean’s Hamlet, created with librettist Matthew Jocelyn, distills Shakespeare’s classic play, drawing partly on the early First Quarto to provide different slants on the familiar text. The composer’s colorful, witty, and lyrical score expertly captures the modernity of Shakespeare’s timeless tale, while also exploiting the traditional operatic elements of arias, ensembles and choruses. 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.  

When Australian composer Brett Dean’s Hamlet had its world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017, The Guardian declared, “New opera doesn’t often get to sound this good … Shakespeare offers a gauntlet to composers that shouldn’t always be picked up, but Dean’s Hamlet rises to the challenge.” Now, this riveting contemporary masterpiece arrives at the Metropolitan Opera, with the acclaimed staging by Neil Armfield, who directed the work’s premiere as well as Dean’s first stagework Bliss for Opera Australia.

Many of the original cast members have followed, including tenor Allan Clayton in the title role. Nicholas Carter makes his Met debut conducting a remarkable ensemble, which also features soprano Brenda Rae as Ophelia, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as Gertrude, baritone Rod Gilfry as Claudius, and bass-baritone John Relyea as the ghost of Hamlet’s father.

The Met presents seven performances of Hamlet between May 13-June 9. Performances take place Friday, May 13 at 8:00pm; Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30pm; Saturday, May 21 at 8:00pm; Thursday, May 26 at 8:00pm; Tuesday, May 31 at 7:30pm; Saturday, June 4 at 1:00pm; and Thursday, June 9 at 7:30pm. On Saturday, June 4 at 1:00pm ET, live transmissions of Hamlet will be presented in cinemas as part of The Met: Live in HD series and over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.

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Hamlet's world premiere at the Glyndbourne Festival in 2017 (performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne Chorus, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski) received an outpouring of excellent reviews that praised the composer's dramatic handling and sonic imagination, the creative treatment of Shakespeare's multiple texts, and the powerful staging.

Since its world premiere, Hamlet has toured the UK, and has also been presented at the Adelaide Festival in Australia and Oper Köln in Germany. The original Hamlet production was released on DVD in 2018 on the Opus Arte label.

All audience members must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and wear face masks at all times inside the Met, except when eating or drinking in designated areas. For more information on health and safety policies, visit their commitment page.

Metropolitan Opera House is located at 30 Lincoln Center Plaza (on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, between West 62nd and 65th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues) in New York, NY.

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith



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