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Subject: HAMLET AT GLYNDENBOURNE - Telegraph article
From: ekaterina usilova <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:ekaterina usilova <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 7 Jul 2017 06:53:30 +0000
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Watched Hamlet livestream last night. Cannot put all of my impressions into words, so here is an article from Telegraph:
Hamlet: how opera remade Shakespeare's Dane

  
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Hamlet: how opera remade Shakespeare's Dane
 As The Telegraph streams Hamlet live from Glyndebourne, Rupert Christiansen hails the power of music to transfor...  |   |

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   -  Rupert Christiansen 
6 JULY 2017 • 7:00AM
As The Telegraph streams Hamlet live from Glyndebourne, Rupert Christiansen hails the power of music to transform the play
The annals record well over 300 operatic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays – some 50 of them devoted to The Tempest alone – and new ones still roll in. Brett Dean’s Hamlet, widely acclaimed for its enthralling immediacy at its premiere at Glyndebourne last month, is only the latest in a line stretching back to 1706 and Francesco Gasparini, the obscure Venetian composer. More than 30 other sung versions of this tragedy exist, 12 of them composed in the last half-century and all of them totally moribund.An astonishing number of celebrated composers have also pondered the possibility of adding to this pile. Glinka and Respighi got as far as writing a few preliminary sketches; the young Schumann wrote that he was “on fire” with the thought that a Hamlet opera could bring him “glory and immortality”, but like the similarly excited Mendelssohn, Verdi, Bizet and Prokofiev, he never actually got around to it.  All of them were attracted by the dramatic power inherent in Hamlet and his dilemma, but the closer they came, the more daunted they were by the problem of moulding the sprawling plot – unfurling through Shakespeare’s longest text, extending over 4,000 lines in most editions – into operatic coherence. Of the extant operatic versions, only two have to date sustained any life: perhaps coincidentally, they were written within a couple of years of each other in the mid-Victorian era. Paid content   
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Recommended bySimon Keenlyside and Jennifer Larmore in Hamlet at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2010 CREDIT:  SARA KRULWICHFranco Faccio was only 25 when his Amleto was premiered in Genoa in 1865. It’s a fascinating work, embodying the aspirations of a group of young Italian bohemians known as La Scapigliatura (‘The Dishevelled’), determined to shake things up in their homeland and open it to foreign cultural influences. Verdi was someone they regarded as yesterday’s man, starchy and hidebound. Baudelaire and Wagner were more their style. No more classical dignity, no more lofty moral posturing, they pleaded – aim instead for the emotional solar plexus.Faccio’s collaborator, also one of this group, was 21-year-old Arrigo Boito, who devised a libretto laden with florid poetic imagery that makes virtually no attempt to render the English original. The 18 named characters are pared down to nine (no Rosencrantz or Guildenstern), and the play’s 20 scenes reduced to eight, but the plot remains broadly Shakespeare’s.After some years of sensational success, Amleto faded into the history books, overtaken by the more graphic dramas of Puccini and the verismo genre. Yet when it was revived at last summer’s Bregenz Festival, Mark Ronan, The Daily Telegraph’s reviewer, was one of many to praise the “terrific punch” and “superb vocal writing” of its lushly romantic score.Stephane Degout and Christine Schaefer perform in Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet at Theater an der Wien in Vienna in 2012 CREDIT: LISI NIESNERThis opera does hit the solar plexus, and one hopes that it will be performed in Britain in the near future. (As a footnote, Faccio and Boito both continued to be involved with Shakespeare through Verdi, with whom they were ultimately reconciled. Boito would write the libretti for both Otello and Falstaff, and Faccio conducted the premiere of Otello.) A more persistent presence in the repertory has been French composer Ambroise Thomas’s take on Hamlet. An instant hit when unveiled at the Paris Opéra in 1868, it is still staged periodically today and was last heard at Covent Garden in 2003, with Simon Keenlyside in the title-role.In order to align the content with popular French taste of the era, Thomas’s librettists took much greater liberties with the plot than Faccio and Boito. Hamlet’s soliloquising is largely excised – instead he has an exuberant drinking song; Laertes and Polonius survive the bloodbath, as does Gertrude, who is banished to a convent; Ophelia’s role (and Hamlet’s passion for her) is greatly elaborated, culminating in her 15-minute mad scene; and most strikingly of all, Hamlet ends up triumphant, acclaimed as king after he kills Claudius.It may sound silly, but it works. Thomas is a skilful musical dramatist and there are some striking orchestral effects – including some hair-raising spookiness for the ghost’s appearances – as well as several marvellously expressive melodies."Whatever the changes, Hamlet will always be intellectually, emotionally and morally complex"Both Faccio and Thomas smooth down the edges to present Hamlet as a romantically Byronic hero, with the black villainy of Claudius in stark contrast and the ghost merely the emanation of Gothick horror cliché. But there are so many other ways of interpreting the text, and at a seminar in May organised by Glyndebourne at Shakespeare’s Globe, Brett Dean and his librettist Matthew Jocelyn, along with a distinguished panel including actor Simon Russell Beale and novelist Ian McEwan, discussed its protean capacity to change its meaning according to cultural circumstances. Russians look at Hamlet as the Dostoevskyian ‘superfluous man’, while Parisians see a Left Bank existentialist in dark glasses and black polo neck.In the Thirties, he morphed into a leftist intellectual fighting against a Fascist Claudius; for mid 20th-century Freudians, the key to his psyche was his intense Oedipus Complex. Throughout these and all his other identities, as McEwan pointed out, what remains constant is the revelation of an intellectually, emotionally and morally complex self without parallel in literature.Christine Schaefer performs in Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet at Theater an der Wien in Vienna in 2012 CREDIT:  LISI NIESNERToday, Hamlet is generally being presented as a rather unpleasant creature – as depicted by Andrew Scott in Robert Icke’s hi-tech production currently in the West End, he is neurotically sensitive and bipolar, with some dark sexual hang-ups. As interpreted by the tenor Allan Clayton, Brett Dean’s Hamlet also runs along these lines – a hairy, moody, volatile brute in slobby T-shirt, and certainly no princely gentleman.  But if Clayton’s Hamlet seems an alarmingly contemporary figure, Dean’s opera is in many structural respects not very different from Faccio’s or Thomas’s. Following their blue pencils, the librettist Matthew Jocelyn has bypassed Act IV, eliminating Hamlet’s exile to England after the murder of Polonius, the appearance of his alter ego Fortinbras, his dispatch of the hapless Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who survive in this opera to play an unaccustomed part in the final scene) and his change of inner mood from anguished doubt to resigned fatalism.Elsewhere, Jocelyn strips Shakespeare down but doesn’t mess with him, reducing the text to about 20 per cent of its original length. The narrative outline is generally retained, except in an arrestingly phantasmagoric opening scene that scrambles phrases from Hamlet’s soliloquies (where, in the words of the production’s director Neil Armfield, Dean’s music “makes you feel the inner pulse of Hamlet’s thought”).Like Thomas in particular, Dean exploits eerie orchestral effects to signal the appearance of the ghost and uses Ophelia’s madness as a pretext for the soprano to light some vocal fireworks. Dean also demonstrates a 19th-century composer’s gift for sparking dramatic confrontations, and the highly charged duets of Hamlet with Gertrude and Ophelia, as well as the scenes matching soloists to chorus, are electrifying highlights of a score pitched at the temperature of a thriller.But there’s nothing cheaply sensationalist about Dean’s vision: the conductor Vladimir Jurowski considers it to be a 21st-century equivalent of Verdi’s Otello, expanding into lyricism and building to gripping climaxes that grow forcefully out of the psychological situations.“The miracle of this Hamlet,” Jurowski adds, “is that you cannot distinguish between the text and the music” – a richly suggestive perspective on a play that never ceases to resonate and disturb.    Katya

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