Hamlet – an exclusive preview

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The world premiere of Hamlet is just days away. This short video gives an exclusive look at the rehearsals with insights from composer Brett Dean, singer Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia) and conductor Vladimir Jurowski.


Rehearsing on stage

With opening night approaching, rehearsals for Hamlet have now moved to the main stage.

‘Now we’re rehearsing in the theatre we’re dealing with a whole new set of parameters’ says Barbara Hannigan, who sings the role of Ophelia. ‘We are in a different acoustic’ she notes.

Vladimir Jurowski, Hamlet’s conductor, notes that ‘technically the piece is immensely complex because we’ve got several elements to it – a large cast, a big chorus, a semi-chorus well hidden in the pit. It is a completely full-on experience.’

Theatre of sound

Composer Brett Dean explains ‘I’ve tried to with the orchestration and the sound world to create a “theatre of sound”, much in the way that modern cinema has surround sound, to encompass states of mind’.

With a score as complex as Hamlet’s the rehearsals have to be meticulous. ‘It’s layer by layer’ says Barbara, ‘constantly coming back to the music’.

Heightened emotion

‘Whilst it may seem odd for the famous lines of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to be sung rather than spoken, for me the emotional terrain is so compelling that somehow… it being sung seems quite normal’ says Brett.

Barbara sees Hamlet’s themes as universal, ‘Everyone has experienced loss, heartbreak, losing a parent – these are the emotions that the play invokes… opera brings that to a more heightened level’.

‘People say “I love Hamlet, but I don’t ever cry at the end” – I think they might cry in this version.’
–Brett Dean, composer of Hamlet


See Hamlet

On stage at Festival 2017 11 June–6 July

Live in cinemas and online 6 July

On Tour 21 October–1 December