The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, July 4, 2022


'Hamlet' boldly engulfs the Metropolitan Opera
In an undated image provided by Micah Shumake, Charles Dennis, top, as a young Malcolm X and Whitney Morrison, sitting, as his mother in Anthony Davis’s “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X” at Detroit Opera. Anthony Davis’s “X” has stretches of incantation that, in person, turn it into something like a sacred rite. Micah Shumake via The New York Times.

by Zachary Woolfe



NEW YORK, NY.- An opera composer would need the epic gifts and epic gall of a Richard Wagner to consider an adaptation of “Hamlet” and think: “Yup, I’ve got this.”

“My initial response,” Brett Dean has ventured more modestly, “was to say no, that I couldn’t possibly tackle something that big.”

But about 10 years ago, Dean put aside his reservations and began to tackle the play, with Matthew Jocelyn by his side as librettist. And, boldly slashing and reconfiguring Shakespeare’s text while setting it to a score assured in both crashes and whispers, they tackled it to the ground.

Now at the Metropolitan Opera, Dean and Jocelyn’s “Hamlet” is brooding, moving and riveting. These two artists have put a softly steaming small choir in the orchestra pit, and musicians in balcony boxes for fractured fanfares. And, through acoustic means and groaning subwoofers alike, they have put the agonized characters nearly inside your bloodstream.

It’s a work both traditional and innovative, elegant and passionate — a hit, to quote the play badly out of context, a very palpable hit.

“Hamlet” was already admirable in the 1,200-seat, jewel-box theater at the Glyndebourne Festival in England. It premiered there in 2017, just 50 miles from the Globe in London, where the original play was performed some 400 years ago. When a work succeeds in such an intimate space, there’s no guarantee that it will have the sameeffect in the nearly 4,000-seat Met.

But “Hamlet” doesn’t merely fill the Met. It engulfs the enormous house. This transfer is no compromise or pale echo; when it opened Friday, the two-act opera felt more powerful and coherent than it did five years ago.

At Glyndebourne, the piece made a coolly virtuosic impression, coming off more as a clever meditation on the play than as a deep or affecting inhabiting of it. But it was dazzling musically and no less so at the Met. From its first sepulchral rumble in the dark to the lonely ending — papery wrinkles of snare drum; a cello solo high and yearning enough to mimic a viola; quietly breathless winds — Dean’s score contains multitudes and mysteries.

As the story progresses, there are violent explosions and simmering fogs of sound, out of which the voices emerge, emoting at their extremes but ineffably human, too. Electronic auras seem to swirl around the audience, aided by the two antiphonal groups in the balcony boxes on either side of the proscenium — each with a percussionist, clarinetist and trumpeter.

Those percussionists are abetted by three more in the pit, handling an army of instruments usual and not, including temple bells, junk metal, glass and plastic bottles, aluminum foil, newspaper, and a drum called, aptly, a lion’s roar. This is an opera that blasts and scrapes, flickers and droops, with growling aggression giving way to delicate twinkling.

Conducted by Nicholas Carter, in his company debut, the Met’s ensemble was as focused and rich Friday as the London Philharmonic Orchestra had been at Glyndebourne.



Also on Artdaily
Let actors act





But whether it was a change in my perception or the grander new surroundings, or both, the union of Dean’s score and Jocelyn’s libretto — a spirited yet deadly serious mashup of the play’s different versions — now felt more convincing. The opera seems to have grown into itself. Without losing its patient, ritualistic grimness or its games with theatricality, it has stronger narrative propulsion. What seemed episodic in 2017 now comes across as a taut dramatic arc, the text sometimes stylized — characters tend to stammer repetitions of key lines — but the storytelling clear, lean and always supported by the agile music.

A crucial factor in that clarity is Neil Armfield’s savage, exhilarating production, which originated at Glyndebourne but has effortlessly scaled up for the Met; bigger, in this case, really is better. The singers’ faces are caked in floury white, like Kabuki actors rushed into service before being fully prepared. Alice Babidge’s aristocratic costumes float ambiguously between our time and the 1960s, and Ralph Myers’ set — lit by Jon Clark with flooding daylight and mournful sunset — is a manor-house ballroom that fragments and rotates to become a theater’s backstage. These characters, we are not allowed to forget, are performers, too — but that bit of detachment only redoubles the poignancy of their struggles.

Making his Met debut in the title role, tenor Allan Clayton is the same disheveled, melancholy presence he was in England. Barely leaving the stage during the performance, he is covered in sweat by the end. But the strains the score forces toward the edges of his range feel more intentional now, even beautiful; his tone is sometimes plangently lyrical, sometimes sarcastically sharp. Without losing the character’s desperation, Clayton now makes Hamlet more persuasively antic and wry — more real.

Depicting the ghost of Hamlet’s father — a ferocious, ecstatic invention, sung by stony-toned bass-baritone John Relyea — Dean is not above creepy, effective horror-movie effects. Baritone Rod Gilfry and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly conjure the luxuriant sternness of Claudius (Hamlet’s uncle and his father’s killer) and Gertrude (his mother and, fatally, Claudius’ new wife).

Dean and Jocelyn give us an Ophelia more forthright and forceful than fragile flower, but that unseen choral haze from the pit hovers around poised, subtle soprano Brenda Rae from the beginning, a premonition of insanity. When she testifies in front of Claudius and Gertrude about Hamlet’s odd behavior, we don’t just hear the bronzed resonance of a temple bowl; we somehow feel ourselves inside its claustrophobic metallic emptiness, too.

Ophelia’s mad scene, with Rae in mud-soiled underwear, matted hair and a men’s tailcoat, pounding on her chest as she sings to make the notes tremble, is eerie without overstatement. As her avenging brother, Laertes, tenor David Butt Philip is ardent; as her officious father, Polonius, tenor William Burden avoids caricature. The whole vast company is strong, including the onstage chorus, an implacably unified mob of nobility at fever pitch.

Though cutely portrayed as toadyish countertenor twins by Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Christopher Lowrey, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern struggle to serve much musical or dramatic purpose. (They were trimmed for Ambroise Thomas’ French “Hamlet” of 1868, the only other operatic version still in wide circulation.) But so sure is Dean’s imagination and execution that you accept as part of his theatrical world even the elements that you might not have chosen for yours.

And so many of his ideas are inspired, like adding the forlorn country lilt of an accordionist (Veli Kujala) to the scene in which Hamlet corrals a traveling troupe of actors to put on an evocation of his father’s murder. Later, the whistling of the gravedigger (Relyea, who also sings the chief of the players’ troupe) passes with miraculous restraint into the orchestra, until the solemnity of the ensemble is cut through with sardonic grunts of brass and more windy wheezes of accordion.

This is a long score — two hours and 45 minutes of music — and its pace conspicuously slows during a bloodbath finale that unfolds with painstaking, even painful, deliberation. But to live within such a confident vision as Dean and Jocelyn’s, and to feel it live around and in you, is the pleasure afforded by great art. Who would want that to end any sooner?



'Hamlet'

Through June 9 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City; metopera.org.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

May 17, 2022

Artemis Gallery announces May 19 boutique auction of expertly curated antiquities, ethnographica and fine art

Ruby Mazur celebrates 50th anniversary of his "mouth & tongue" image designed for the Rolling Stones

We've been drawing these saber-toothed cats all wrong

Nick Cave goes underground

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza presents Carpaccio's Young Knight in a Landscape restoration and technical study

Surrealism shines at Christie's as sales total $79.4 million

Paris Print Fair opens this week! New fair dedicated to printmaking from May 18-22

Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale achieves $97 million

Annely Juda Fine Art opens an exhibition of works by Philipp Goldbach, Nigel Hall and Werner Haypeter

The Fralin Museum of Art receives grant to support the Native North American Collections Project

Shelburne Museum opens with new exhibitions, programs, and refurbished historic buildings

Hake's debuts all-Star Wars special auction June 2 - only the rarest and best

Gilane Tawadros appointed new Director of Whitechapel Gallery

Batman rides the lightning as original cover for The Dark Knight Returns Book One strikes Heritage Auctions in June

Mantle and Munson records and a Michael Jordan jersey from his last blast with the Bulls lead Heritage auction

Pearl Lam Galleries announces representation of Philip Colbert, known as the "godson of Andy Warhol"

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, master of the santoor, dies at 84

After 36 years, a Malcolm X opera sings to the future

Katsumoto Saotome, who preserved memories of Tokyo firebombing, dies at 90

'Mrs. Doubtfire' to close on Broadway, after reopening

Larry Woiwode, who wrote of family, faith and rural life, dies at 80

Beyond the châteaux: New escapes in France's Loire Valley

Let actors act

'Hamlet' boldly engulfs the Metropolitan Opera

Find Your Way into Your Studies By Trying To Study

5 Reasons Slot Machines Are Better Than Video Games

What Makes Jordan Sudberg a Leading Pain Management Specialist?

How to Use Arts to Support English Language Learners

4 Benefits of Art in the Montessori Classrooms

Commissions, tools and reviews of Exante broker

How To See What Someone Likes on Instagram?

Top-Rated Pharmacy BrooksideCBD Offer Incredible Products and Services

Art Education: Atelier versus Art School




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful