On May 13, the Metropolitan Opera will present the company premiere of Australian composer Brett Dean’s Hamlet, a bold adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless drama, with six additional performances through June 9. The opera arrives in the U.S. for the first time following acclaimed performances at the Glyndebourne Festival in England and the Adelaide Festival in Australia. Distilling the action of the play to 12 scenes, Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn have created a taut, dramatically effective opera, presented in an electrifying staging by noted Australian director Neil Armfield. Maestro Nicholas Carter makes his company debut conducting Dean’s score, which features an accordionist, electronics, a group of singers embedded in the orchestra, and two groups of musicians who will perform from auditorium balconies using both traditional instruments and unusual objects such as stones and plastic bottles. These forces create what the composer calls a “theater of sound,” emphasizing both exterior action and Hamlet’s inner thoughts.
Tenor Allan Clayton, who originated the role of the title Danish prince at Glyndebourne and recently starred in acclaimed performances of Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Royal Opera House, makes his anticipated Met debut. Clayton brings his “physically vivid, emotionally affecting [and] psychologically astute portrayal” (The Times of London) to this Met premiere production with an ensemble cast that features soprano Brenda Rae as Ophelia, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as Gertrude, baritone Rod Gilfry as Claudius, and bass-baritone John Relyea as the ghost of Hamlet’s father and the Gravedigger. Along with Clayton, many singers in the cast are making Met debuts: countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Rosencrantz, countertenor Christopher Lowrey as Guildenstern, and baritone Jacques Imbrailo as Horatio. Tenors David Butt Philip and William Burden portray Laertes and Polonius.
The creative team includes set designer Ralph Myers, costume designer Alice Babidge, lighting designer Jon Clark, movement director Denni Sayers, and fight director Nicholas Hall. Hamlet is a Glyndebourne production.
Hamlet Worldwide Broadcasts in Cinema, Radio, and Online
The performance of Hamlet on Saturday, June 4, will be transmitted live to cinemas around the globe as part of The Met: Live in HD series and broadcast over the Toll Brothers-Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
Hamlet Special Events
Works & Process: Hamlet
Monday, May 9 at 7:30pm ET
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater, 1071 Fifth Avenue
Met General Manager Peter Gelb moderates an evening of conversation and performance at the Guggenheim Museum, featuring Matthew Jocelyn, Neil Armfield, and Nicholas Carter. Guests must provide proof of vaccination against Covid-19, and masks will be required. For more information and tickets, please click here.
Transforming Hamlet: from Bard to BBQ
Monday, May 16 at 6:30pm ET
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue
This month, two iconic cultural institutions present distinct takes on one of theater’s most famous tragedies. The Metropolitan Opera’s Hamlet by Brett Dean and The Public Theater and National Black Theatre’s Fat Ham by James Ijames each use Shakespeare’s drama in vastly different ways, creating an exciting, real-time dialogue about response, adaptation, and inspiration. Debra Ann Byrd (Artistic Director, Southwest Shakespeare Company) speaks with creators James Ijames (Fat Ham playwright) and Matthew Jocelyn (Hamlet librettist) as well as directors Saheem Ali (Fat Ham) and Neil Armfield (Hamlet) about revisiting and revamping a classic for new audiences. The evening will feature a performance by tenor Allan Clayton (title role of Hamlet) and pianist Bryan Wagorn. Guests must provide proof of vaccination against Covid-19, and masks will be required. The event is free. For registration and more information, please click here.
A collaboration between Met Opera, The Public Theater, and National Black Theatre, in association with Peoplmovr. Co-presented with the Museum of the City of New York.
Hamlet Artist Biographies
Australian conductor Nicholas Carter makes his Met debut leading Hamlet this season, an opera he conducted at Adelaide Festival in 2018. Currently, he is chief conductor and co-operndirektor of Oper Bern, leading Don Carlos, Das Rheingold, and Idomeneo in his first season. He will also make his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival conducting Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro this spring.
American soprano Brenda Rae makes her role debut as Ophelia. She made her Met debut in 2020 singing Poppea in Agrippina followed by Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos earlier this season. Recent performances include Zerbinetta at the Edinburgh International Festival, La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, and Staatsoper Berlin; Elvira in I Puritani with Washington Concert Opera and in Frankfurt; the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera San Antonio and Opera Philadelphia; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore in Madrid; Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Vienna State Opera and in Zurich; the title role of Handel’s Semele in concert in Paris; Ginevra in Handel’s Ariodante at Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Violetta in La Traviata in concert in Frankfurt. She was a 2021 recipient of the Met’s Beverly Sills Artist Award, established by Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman.
British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly makes her Met role debut as Gertrude, a role that she previously performed in the opera’s world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017. She made her Met debut in 2005 as Annio La Clemenza di Tito, returning as the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos and Clarion in Capriccio. Recent highlights include Ježibaba in Rusalka at Covent Garden; Genevieve in Pelléas et Mélisande at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu; Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, the title role of Medea, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Dido in The Trojans at Carthage, Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia, and the title role of Agrippina at English National Opera; the title role of Giulio Cesare at the Glyndebourne Festival; the title role of Phèdre at the Paris Opera; and Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.
American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen makes his Met debut singing Rosencrantz. He was a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition in 2017 and a recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Recent highlights include role debuts as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Adelaide Festival, David in Handel’s Saul at Houston Grand Opera, Medoro in Handel’s Orlando at San Francisco Opera, and Ottone in Agrippina at Ars Lyrica Houston
American countertenor Christopher Lowrey makes his Met debut as Guildenstern, a role that he previously performed at the Glyndebourne and Adelaide Festivals. He was a finalist in the 2014 Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, and his awards include the 2013-14 Sullivan Foundation Award. Recent highlights include Gernando in Faramondo at the Göttingen Festival, Discordia/Euripilo/Polluce in Cavalli’s Elena at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Joacim in Susanna at the Iford Festival, and Creonte in the world premiere of Almeida’s L’Ippolito at the Casa da Musica.
British tenor Allan Clayton makes his Met debut in the title role of Hamlet, a role he previously performed in the world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival and has also sung on tour with the company and in Cologne. Recent performances include H.K. Gruber’s Frankenstein at the Covent Garden; In the Market for Love, an updated version of Offenbach’s Mesdames de La Halle, at the Glyndebourne Festival; and the title role of Peter Grimes at Madrid’s Teatro Real and Covent Garden, He will also sing Peter Grimes next fall at the Met during the 2022-23 season. In 2018, he won the Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award and the WhatsOnStage Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.
British tenor David Butt Philip makes his Met debut as Laertes, a role he previously performed in the world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival. He made his Met debut this season as Grigory in Boris Godunov. Recent performances also include Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos in concert at the Edinburgh International Festival; Boris in Káťa Kabanová at the Glyndebourne Festival; Florestan in Fidelio and Grigory at Covent Garden; the Prince in Rusalka, Froh in Das Rheingold, and Essex in Britten’s Gloriana in Madrid; Rodolfo in La Bohème as part of English National Opera’s Drive & Live; Don José in Carmen at English National Opera; Florestan in Prague; and the title role of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
American tenor William Burden made his Met debut in 1996 singing Janek in Janáček’s The Makropulos Case. Since then, he has appeared at the Met as Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande, Gilbert Griffiths in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and the King of Naples in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. Next season at the Met, he will sing the role of Louis in the Met’s world-premiere production of Kevin Puts’s The Hours.
South African baritone Jacques Imbrailo makes his Met debut as Horatio, a role he previously performed at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017. Recent highlights include Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory at Garsington Opera, Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Albert in Werther and the title role of Billy Budd at Covent Garden, King Alphonse XI in La Favorite at Houston Grand Opera, Michael in the world premiere of Kasper Holten‘s production of Brothers at the Royal Danish Opera, Zurga in The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera, and Messner in the world premiere of Jimmy López’s Bel Canto at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
American baritone Rod Gilfry makes his Met role debut as Claudius, a role he previously performed in the world premiere at the Glyndebourne Festival. He made his Met Opera debut in 1996 as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and has also appeared as Alberto Roc in Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel, Danilo in The Merry Widow, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Marcello in La Bohème. This season, he appeared as the Marquis de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites at Houston Grand Opera and Robert McNamara in the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang‘s The Rift at Washington National Opera.
Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea makes his Met role debut as the Ghost of King Hamlet / the First Player / the Gravedigger. He made his company debut in 2000 as Alidoro in La Cenerentola, followed by performances as Masetto in Don Giovanni, Colline in La Bohème, the Nightwatchman in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Vodník in Rusalka, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Escamillo in Carmen, Gesler in Guillaume Tell, and most recently, the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos earlier this season. Recent performances elsewhere include Gurnemanz in Parsifal in Palermo, Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin in Rome, King Marke in Tristan und Isolde at the Glyndebourne Festival, and Creon in Oedipus Rex at LA Opera.
Australian composer Brett Dean makes his Met debut in Hamlet. In the 2020-21 season, he began a three-year tenure as the composer in residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Upcoming highlights include the world premiere of a new large scale work for double-chorus and orchestra, In this Brief Moment, in September 2022, commissioned by Orchestre National de Lyon, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. His music has been recorded for BIS, Chandos, Warner Classics, ECM Records and ABC Classics. Glyndebourne’s DVD of Hamlet was released in June 2018 and won a Gramophone Award in 2019.
Australian director of theatre, opera, and film, Neil Armfield makes his Met debut with this staging of Hamlet, having directed the opera at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2017 and Adelaide Festival in 2018. He was co-founder of Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre and artistic director for 17 years, directing 50 productions. From 2017 to 2021, he was appointed joint artistic director of Adelaide Festival with Rachel Healy. He has directed in leading opera houses, including English National Opera, Covent Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Zurich Opera, the Bregenz Festival, Opera Australia, the Canadian Opera Company, Welsh National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. World-premiere productions include Brett Dean’s Bliss at Opera Australia and the Edinburgh International Festival, Alan John’s The Eighth Wonder at Opera Australia, and Graeme Koehne’s Love Burns at State Opera South Australia.
Scenic designer Ralph Myers designed the world premiere of Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival and Adelaide Festival. Recent highlights include the new production of Tristan und Isolde at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and Die Tote Stadt at the Bavarian State Opera.
Costume designer Alice Babidge made her Met debut this season with Simon Stone‘s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Recent credits also include La Traviata at the Paris Opera and Vienna State Opera, Hotel Strindberg for Vienna’s Burgtheater, Peer Gynt at Hamburg’s Deutsches SchauSpielHaus, the Ring cycle at Opera Australia, and Detlev Glanert’s Caligula and Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria at English National Opera.
Lighting designer Jon Clark made his Met debut in 2017 with the company premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel. Recent highlights include Hamlet at the Glyndebourne Festival and Adelaide Festival, Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden, and The Turn of the Screw and Orpheus and Eurydice at English National Opera. Later this season, he will be lighting designer for Stravinsky’s The Wedding at La Scala in June.
Movement director Denni Sayers makes her Met debut with Hamlet. Recent opera choreography includes Hamlet and Don Giovanni at the Glyndebourne Festival, The Flying Dutchman at English National Opera, the Ring cycle at Washington National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Turandot at La Scala, Hänsel und Gretel at the Vienna State Opera, Don Carlo at Houston Grand Opera, Elektra at the Salzburg Festival, La Fanciulla del West at the Paris Opera, and Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Fight director Nicholas Hall has over 30 years’ experience in theatre, opera, ballet, and film. He works regularly at the Glyndebourne Festival, including recent productions of Hamlet, Betrothal in a Monastery, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Otello, Carmen, Giulio Cesare, and Don Giovanni. Other recent opera credits include Carmen at Gothenburg Opera and Romeo and Juliet at English National Opera.