Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
March 2, 2018

Last year, Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy opened their first Adelaide Festival as co-Artistic Directors with Barrie Kosky’s fabulous staging of Handel’s Saul , which had premiered at the Glyndebourne Festival. It proved a rapturously received, sell-out success.

Their second Festival opened last night with another operatic production that began life at Glyndebourne (reviewed by Limelight ) – only this time not only is the director Australian but the composer and most of the creative team too. Like Saul, Brett Dean’s 2017 opera Hamlet, directed by Armfield, is a thrilling Festival opening event and an important moment for Australian opera.

Hamlet, Brett Dean, Adelaide Festival Allan Clayton as Hamlet at the Adelaide Festival. Photo © Tony Lewis

Hamletis Australian composer Brett Dean’s second opera, following Bliss,which premiered in 2010, based on Peter Carey’s novel. He and Canadian librettist Matthew Jocelyn have carved their opera from Shakespeare’s play but drawn freely from the three existing versions. They have also mixed things up to intensify their exploration of the inside of Hamlet’s fracturing mind. Key lines of dialogue are relocated, riffed upon and given to different characters,...