Dean’s Ham­let, a truly great Dane

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - THEATRE EVENT - david mel­lor glyn­de­bourne.com

Seventy sum­mers ago Glyn­de­bourne had a big hit with the world pre­miere of Ben­jamin Brit­ten’s rus­tic comedy Al­bert

Her­ring. It’s been a long wait for an­other one, but Brett Dean’s

Ham­let is surely, like Her­ring, built to last.

There were mo­ments when I wished Verdi had writ­ten the mu­sic. But over­all Dean’s writ­ing, es­pe­cially for the or­ches­tra, is vivid and imag­i­na­tive, with some truly un­for­get­table mo­ments you don’t of­ten get in con­tem­po­rary opera.

Ophe­lia’s sex­u­ally charged Mad Scene is bril­liantly com- posed by Dean, and per­formed by the young Jen­nifer France. She also con­trib­utes a mem­o­rable des­cant to ‘There is a wil­low aslant a brook’ from Gertrude (Louise Win­ter – first class).

Dean and his col­leagues never for­get the hu­mour. The ar­rival of Rosen­crantz and Guilden­stern, for in­stance, works bril­liantly, as the two ex­cel­lent comic counter tenors Ru­pert Entick­nap and James Hall blun­der around; im­pres­sive both mu­si­cally and dra­mat­i­cally.

Ham­let is a team ef­fort, emerg­ing from a huge amount of work by Dean, his li­bret­tist

Matthew Jo­ce­lyn (who re­worked the play so that ev­ery word is by Shake­speare although some are changed around) and di­rec­tor Neil Arm­field (whose mod­ern-dress pro­duc­tion has at­mo­spheric sets by Ralph Myers that are a per­fect fit for the mu­sic). In­deed, Arm­field slickly cov­ers over some bits, es­pe­cially in the over­long first act, when Dean’s mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion sags a bit. A hair­cut here would not go amiss.

David Butt Philip, Laertes in the sum­mer run, steps up to con­trib­ute a ter­rific Ham­let. This young man has the tal­ent for an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. Other sup­port­ing roles are also well taken, with Wil­liam Daze­ley an of­ten over­whelmed Claudius, Jef­frey Lloyd-Roberts an egre­gious, in­sin­u­at­ing Polo­nius, and Ru­pert Charlesworth a charis­matic Laertes.

A word of praise too for An­drew Greenan, who stepped in at the last mo­ment as the Ghost and the Gravedig­ger.

In the pit, young Dun­can Ward and his or­ches­tra were rightly cheered. This Ham­let doesn’t just de­serve your at­ten­tion, it de­mands it.

Above: David Butt Philip as Ham­let. Left: Jen­nifer France and Louise Win­ter

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