Composed by Ambroise Thomas
Conducted by Louis Langrée
Directed by Patrice Caurier & Moshe Leiser
Starring Simon Keenlyside, Marlis Petersen, Jennifer Larmore, Toby Spence, James Morris
March 16-April 9, 2010
There’s a reason why Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet hasn’t been performed at the Met since 1897: this mediocre opera brings little more to Shakespeare’s tragedy than occasionally lilting music.
The Met singers and musicians make Hamlet tolerable. Louis Langrée conducts the mighty Met Orchestra and Chorus with a deft touch, giving Thomas’s amiably unmemorable score the thrust and drama it usually lacks. Several singers bring their “A” game: Jennifer Larmore dazzles vocally as Gertrude, even if her acting is too eye-poppingly histrionic; Toby Spence does wonders with the small part of Laertes; and Marlis Petersen, in her Met debut as Ophelia, shows off a superlative range of vocal colors, bravura acting and sophisticated sex appeal. She even overcomes the laughably staged suicide scene, making it as plausible and touching as possible in this confused context.
Simon Keenlyside might be too old for Hamlet (he looks older than his mother, played by Larmore), but with vocal stamina and acting ability that have never been in doubt, he attacks this taxing role ferociously. Although he’s no Olivier, it’s Keenlyside’s fearless performance that ultimately makes this Hamlet worth seeing and hearing.
originally posted on timessquare.com