Thomas' Hamlet was a work I knew for a long time just by reputation. After hearing it, it is not a favourite but it is very interesting with some great music. I saw previously the production with Hampson and Dessay and the recent Met production with Keenlyside.
I would put this production over the Met production, but the production with Hampson, having stronger production values and a better Claudius, is marginally superior.
The costumes and sets are not exactly lavish or beautiful on the eyes, the sets being rather minimal and Hamlet especially practically living in an overcoat, but they're not awful either, while the lighting helps bring out the atmosphere without making it too dark you can't see what's going on.
Thomas' music is great, and brought to life by a strong orchestra and commanding conductor.
Simon Keenlyside is outstanding in the title role, both in his rich voice and committed acting. He is especially impressive in the confrontation with Gertrude and his Brindisi(of all the baritones I've seen for me only Thomas Allen sings it better).
Natalie Dessay also delights. I have always liked Dessay for her fresh and original(sometimes a little too original perhaps) interpretations, fun acting and wondrous colouratura. Her Orphelie is beautifully sung and poignant, complete with a very hauntingly brilliant Mad scene, yet still manages to be as spectacular and as fun as I love her for.
Beatrice Uria-Monzon is a restrained but otherwise magnificent Gertrude, and Polonius and the Ghost of Hamlet's father are well cast and memorable. Claudius is well sung and acted if not quite as menacing as I would have liked.
Overall, outstanding even with small blemishes. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox
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