Self-inflicted surprises can be tricky. Outside of a vague anxiety about stepping into unfamiliar territory, I held no particular expectation regarding yesterday’s foray to see an opera of Hamlet and no anticipation beyond the desire to watch and listen open-heartedly. I cannot call myself an opera fan, but I think, after seeing and hearing The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Hamlet in HD Live, I may become one.
The production was fantastic. The austere sets, no more than walls and shadows, served to hone the focus on the operatic voices of Marlis Petersen as Ophelie, Simon Keenlyside as Hamlet, Jennifer Larmore as Gertrude, James Morris as Claudius, and Toby Spence as Laerte. We, my cousin and I, were thoroughly engaged.
The lighting rendered the scenes like an Old Masters painting, the close-ups drawing you into the emotions reflected on the faces of the singers and heard in the tonal elaborations of their perfect voices. My only nitpick was the end–not Shakespeare’s original. My thought on that–don’t fool with the Master’s work. The final scene was way too much like Romeo and Juliet, thoroughly subverting Shakespeare’s intent. May 1st, the opera Armida opens; I’m going.