Monday, April 05, 2010

Met's Hamlet Is A Piece Of Work

I was thrilled when I received an invitation to see Hamlet at the Metropolitan Opera. I must admit that I don't see as much as opera as I'd like and I'd never even been to the Met. I think Hamlet is a good starter opera--though not particularly well-known, it's easy to follow if you're familiar with the play.

The French opera by Ambroise Thomas has not been seen at the Met in 113 years. Though a few liberties are taken with Shakespeare's play, it's still pretty much intact--the ghost of Hamlet's father wants Hamlet to avenge his murder. I've read that the score is not considered the best, but to these inexperienced ears, I found the music engaging and very appropriate to the story.

Simon Keenlyside delivers a captivating performance as Hamlet and he is evenly matched by Marlis Petersen, a last minute replacement for Natalie Dessay, as Ophelie. Her mad scene is as strong as any I've seen. The other standout is Toby Spence as Laƫrte. Though he appears in only a few scenes, he commands the stage whenever on.

My only complaint is Christian Fenouillat's boring sets, which was basically walls moving about the stage. I would have preferred something more opulent for my first visit to the Met, but no matter, I'm sure I'll be back.

There are two more performances of Hamlet, tonight and Friday at 8 p.m.


Kathleen said...


Sarah B. Roberts said...

I'm so glad you went! Despite the set, you won't get much better than this cast. They were absolutely stunning and I like the use of your word "captivating" for Simon - I agree and was found myself captivated by him and the rest of the principals. Brava!