Monday, June 7, 2010

REVIEW: HAMLET at the MET Opera HD Live

Bethanie Wellcome Theatre Sunday June 6

I can imagine why the MET would like to broadcast this production despite the fact that the same production staged at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2003 is already available in DVD. This opera by Ambroise Thomas is too good to be ignored further by the American audience.

photo: courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera

Just like Simon Keenlyside, Natalie Dessay was supposed to reprise her role (Ophelie). Fortunately (for me), she was not able to make it and German soprano Marlis Petersen had to step in. Don't get me wrong, I love Natalie Dessay and she did a fantastic job in Liceu, it was just nice to be able to see how another soprano interpret the role given that I am watching another viedo and not live.

Needless to say, Simon was dazzling with his flawless singing and acting. As for Marlis Petersen, her interpretation was different from Natalie's but was equally valid. Marlis' Ophelie was more dignified and conflicted, with a rich and warmer tone. Natalie's Ophelie was vulnerable and confronting with, a bright and crystalline voice. If I have to choose one though, I will go for Natalie, purely for her explosive coloratura.

The one role that perhaps will make this MET screening better than the Liceu DVD was Queen Gertrude (Hamlet's mother). The role was magnificently acted and sang by the American mezzo Jennifer Larmore. Jennifer injected the role with a glamor and feist matched with a beautifully modulated voice that delivered great dramatic impact.

James Morris as Claudius was wooden, while Toby Spence as Laerte was very believable and possessed a very youthful bright lyric tenor voice. The orchestra was beautifully led by Louis Langree, while the production was simple. Yes, simple... not much to talk about.

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