* Notes *
This new production of Thomas' Hamlet had a third performance at the Metropolitan Opera last night. The set, designed by Christian Fenouillat, was pretty much just two large curved walls arranged in different orientations to suggest the changes of scene. For the most part this worked splendidly, and though the set creaked a little, it was not too distracting. I was not entirely convinced by Act IV, Ophélie's mad scene seemed to take place in a decrepit ballroom. Evidently, is space was supposed to be her apartment, but it is simply very difficult for me to imagine this scene indoors.
The orchestra sounded lovely under Louis Langrée. The clarinet solo at the beginning of Act IV was particularly beautiful. As for singing, the chorus sounded together and quite fine. Toby Spence sounded youthful and fresh as Laërte. James Morris was a shaky Claudius, but this did not seem inappropriate for the role. Jennifer Larmore looked gorgeous as Gertrude, but she gasped more than a few times in the first half of the opera, her breathing was far too audible. She did sound better as the night wore on. Marlis Petersen took over the role of Ophélie for Natalie Dessay, who withdrew due to illness. Petersen does not seem to know what to do with her arms, and at times looked rather awkward. She has a pretty, flexible voice, with only the slightest trace of rawness that appeared in her demanding mad scene. Her duet with Simon Keenlyside in Act I Scene 2 duet was stunning. Keenlyside's Hamlet was persuasive, both in his physicality and compelling singing.
* Tattling *
People talked during singing, and naturally whenever the orchestra played alone. Watch alarms were heard at 9pm and 11pm. One woman at the back of the Family Circle seemed to be unwrapping a sandwich for much of Act II. At least she had the good sense to leave after intermission, and her companion offered me her seat, which I respectfully declined.
Some audience members tittered when Keenlyside threw himself against one of the walls at the end of Act III, just before the ghost singings "Souviens-toi...mais épargne ta mère!"