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Ashutosh Khandekar

Hamlet at Glyndebourne

10:27, 23rd August 2017

One of the major cultural events of the summer was the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet, directed by Neil Armfield to designs by Ralph Myers and Alice Babidge, and with a cast packed with quality names in what was taken altogether an outstandingly proficient piece of stagecraft. For this particular listener, though, the score – complex, subtle and rich in its variety of textures – lacked the purposive brilliance of Dean’s previous opera Bliss (2010), which set a more-or-less contemporary Australian subject rather than this most esteemed of all dramatic classics; it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Dean’s Hamlet, which achieved some fulsome reviews.

There can be no doubt that Glyndebourne launched the new opera in the grandest style, with Vladimir Jurowski conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra on their finest form, and with fully committed performances from the likes of Allan Clayton (Hamlet), Sarah Connolly (Gertrude), Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia), Rod Gilfry (Claudius), Kim Begley (Polonius), Jacques Imbrailo (Horatio), David Butt Philip (Laertes) and John Tomlinson in no fewer than three parts – and full marks to them all.

GEORGE HALL

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