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Dean, Brett: Hamlet (2013-16) 140'
Opera in two acts

Music Text


Libretto by Matthew Jocelyn after William Shakespeare (E)


Major roles: colS,M,2T,Bar,BBar,B; minor roles to be sung by chorus members; chorus; 3(II,III=picc,afl).2(II=corA).5*(II=bcl,III=dbcl).2(II=dbn)-4.4*.3.1-perc(4*).timp-accordion-harp-kbd(pft,laptop)-strings(
* from within these numbers, two identical trios will be taken, each consisting of 1 clarinet, 1 trumpet and 1 percussion, to be stationed in the theatre throughout.

A sound designer for the PA system is recommended

Abbreviations (PDF)


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

World Premiere

Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes
Neil Armfield, director / Glyndebourne Chorus / London Philharmonic Orchestra / Vladimir Jurowski

Composer's Notes

There is no definitive version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There were at least three versions printed within his lifetime or shortly thereafter, and endless variations, including the most commonly used 1st Folio, and an incalculable number of conflated versions.

Our Hamlet relies heavily on Shakespeare’s verse, if not necessarily on the standard chronology of scenes. The opera concentrates primarily on the domestic drama, exploring the depths of Hamlet’s quest for both understanding and revenge, from the death of his father through to his own demise.

This quest is relayed through the fragmentary nature of his relationships with those in his inner circle. It is this very fragmentation – as well as the lack of a definitive text upon which to base the opera – that allows us to explore the most effective and poetically resonant assemblage of story-lines.
Brett Dean

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