Notes and Editorial Reviews
Natalie Dessay and Simon Keenlyside in a new production of the rarely performed opera by Ambroise Thomas from the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Dessay creates a monumental performance of Ophélie, culminating in one of the most gripping Mad Scenes of all time (“Partagez-vous mes fleurs…et maintenant écoutez ma chanson…”).
Hamlet was recorded in the fabulous 5.1 format offering a superb listening experience. The opera is sung in French, with subtitles available in English, French, German, and Spanish, and Catalan; running time is approximately 2 hours 56 minutes.
R E V I E W S:
"...this Hamlet cuts to the heart of Shakespeare’s scenario in surprising and
gratifying ways. Many key moments—the first appearance of the ghost, Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother, the “Death of Gonzago” play-within-a-play, and of course the “To be or not to be” speech—are realized with thrilling immediacy. In other respects, the action is streamlined...But, if the goal is to present a focused music drama, is this such a bad thing?...When it benefits from a first-rate production such as this one, recorded in live performance in 2004 at Barcelona’s Teatre del Liceu, the opera indeed can seem greater than the sum of its parts.
Stage directors Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser combine a cool and barren set design with costumes suggesting the 19th-century provenance of the opera and the play’s most important revivals... There are no weak links in this cast... Baritone Simon Keenlyside, bringing to the title role the same attention to words and their deeper meanings that have made him such a successful interpreter of Lieder, presents a winningly credible young Dane, tortured, diffident, always deep-thinking, and searing in his full realization of the character.... But truly this production, and this disc, belongs to the great French coloratura Natalie Dessay, who in purely vocal terms easily makes one forget about Joan Sutherland and June Anderson, her two predecessors in complete recordings. What makes this performance special is that she is able to bend the heroic demands of her part to the delineation of character...
This live film, directed smoothly for video by Toni Bargalló, is not just a memento of a splendid night in the theater, but an impassioned plea for reconsideration of a minor masterpiece, with vocal and dramatic performances that will burn themselves into your memory. Much of the credit for its success goes to the batonless gestures of conductor Bertrand de Billy, who is rapidly establishing himself as one of the finest advocates of French Romanticism. Questions of balance and color are kept here in constant motion, as he shapes each phrase with rhythmic subtlety. This is a Hamlet that, even if it is not quite Shakespeare, is a shining sun of French lyric melodrama." - Christopher Williams, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas
Béatrice Uria-Monzon (Mezzo Soprano),
Natalie Dessay (Soprano),
Simon Keenlyside (Baritone),
Alain Vernhes (Bass)
Bertrand De Billy
Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,
Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
Written: 1868; France
Date of Recording: 2004
Venue: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
Length: 176 Minutes 0 Secs.
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