Brett Dean

2h 43 min

The world premiere recording of Brett Dean’s new opera based on Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy: To be, or not to be. This is Hamlet’s dilemma, and the essence of Shakespeare’s most famous and arguably greatest work, given new life in operatic form in this original Glyndebourne commission. Thoughts of murder and revenge drive Hamlet when he learns that it was his uncle Claudius who killed his father, the King of Denmark, then seized his father’s crown and wife.


But Hamlet’s vengeance vies with the question: is suicide a morally valid deed in an unbearably painful world? Dean’s colourful, energetic, witty and richly lyrical music expertly captures the modernity of Shakespeare’s timeless tale, while also exploiting the traditional operatic elements of arias, ensembles and choruses. Matthew Jocelyn’s inspired libretto is pure Shakespeare, adhering to the Bard’s narrative thread but abridging, reconfiguring and interweaving it into motifs that highlight the main dramatic themes: death, madness, the impossibility of certainty and the complexities of action.


With the collaboration of Naxos

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne Chorus


Artistic team

Conductor | Vladimir Jurowski

Stage director | Neil Armfield



Hamlet | Allan Clayton

Gertrude | Sarah Connolly

Ophelia | Barbara Hannigan

Claudius | Rod Gilfry

Polonius | Kim Begley

Ghost of Old Hamlet | John Tomlinson

Horatio | Jacques Imbrailo

Laertes | David Butt Philip

Rosencrantz | Rupert Enticknap

Guildenstern | Christopher Lowrey


Teatro Real
Richard Wagner
Ivor Bolton, Kasper Holten

Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) is an opera composed by the young Richard Wagner, still in the process of finding his own musical language. After finishing The Fairies, his first completed opera, which was never performed, Wagner was able to present his second one on March 29, 1836 in Magdeburg, but this would be the only performance of the opera in his lifetime. The première was a complete disaster: some of the singers had not learned their parts, and the second night was cancelled when the prima donna’s husband attacked one of the tenors in a fit of jealousy. Wagner gave up further attempts to stage the opera and consigned it to oblivion, describing it as a “sin of my youth”


With such a history it is hardly surprising that Das Liebesverbot has been unfairly considered a minor work by the great German composer. However, this unknown piece is interesting for many reasons. The Ban on Love is an opera that challenges many of our assumptions about Wagner’s music and it is certainly a far cry from its typical density and depth. This work is the young Wagner’s equivalent to Goethe’s Italian Journey: an exaltation of the warm south, sunshine, playfulness, sex, and hedonism.


For the text of the opera, Wagner decided to adapt Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play which was then rarely performed because it was regarded as immoral. Making substantial changes to the original plot, the composer presented a stinging critique of the puritanism of contemporary German society.


Wagner moves the action to Sicily, where the Regent is Friedrich, a rigid German ruler who is unable to understand the joie de vivre of the locals. He decides to discipline them by banning Carnival, brothels, cabarets, and love outside marriage.


The musical influences on the work are quite clear. Wagner, reacting against the “pedantry” and “erudition” around him, celebrates and pays homage to the virtues of Italian music with frenetic rhythms, vibrant, powerful melodies full of character, a certain interest in repetition and simple harmonies. His admiration for composers like Bellini and Rossini can be seen in moments that are almost direct quotes of Il barbiere di Siviglia or Guillaume Tell. There is also a strong French influence in the format of the comic opera and the most characteristic grand operas of the period, such as La Muette de Portici, by Auber, and Robert le Diable, by Meyerbeer.


Another interesting point to note is that the score of this opera already hints at Wagner’s future work. There is a great deal of Lohengrin in it, and the character of Ponzio Pilato is clearly a forerunner of Mime. The Ban on Love is also the first time that Wagner used the leitmotif technique structurally, especially the theme of the ban on love decreed by Friedrich This recurs throughout the work, alternating between solemn and ironic.


In short, this is a little-known but interesting work which is well worth discovering. It provides considerable insight into the development of the mature Richard Wagner. To commemorate the 4th Centenary of the death of Shakespeare, it would be hard to find a more appropriate piece.

Teatro Real
Giuseppe Verdi
Daniele Rustioni, Laurent Pelly

Three of the greatest operas of Giuseppe Verdi were inspired by the admiration he felt towards the genius of William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Otello and Falstaff, his final opera and second comedy. It is an ideal work, teaching us to take life lightly and laugh at ourselves, and it comes to the Teatro Real in a new production by the talented master in humor, Laurent Pelly. His most recent productions on this stage have been: La Fille du régiment, Hänsel und Greteland The Golden Cockerel. Daniele Rustioni conducts two markedly Spanish casts, together with the house Chorus and Orchestra.

Glyndebourne Festival
Hector Berlioz
Antonello Manacorda, Laurent Pelly

Through the eye of French director Laurent Pelly this expression of Berlioz’s undying admiration for the Bard — his adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing as an opéra comique — becomes "an elegant treatise on love and music designed in shades of grey with 50s-era costumes" (Sunday Express ★★★★).


Housed by designer Barbara de Limburg in a series of oversized boxes, it’s "terribly chic, terribly pretty" (The Spectator).


Soaring over the warmly graceful playing of the London Philharmonic’, Paul Appleby sings ‘attractively’ as Bénédict and Stéphanie d’Oustrac "makes a marvellously wiry and fiery Béatrice, singing with charm and acting with gusto" (The Telegraph).


With the collaboration of Naxos

Kungliga Operan
Mikael Karlsson
Alexander Ekman, Royal Swedish Ballet

Alexander Ekman's exceptional ballet A Midsummer Night's Dream was created for the Royal Swedish Ballet with a score by award winning Mikael Karlsson. At the premiere the piece immediately established itself as a front representative of the new generation of dance – energetic, skilled and filled with humor.


This contemporary ballet explores the energy and the mysteries of the summer solstice night in Scandinavian tradition. In addition to the dancers from the Royal Swedish Ballet, nine musicians participate on stage, including experimental pop singer Anna von Hausswolff, acclaimed percussionist Niklas Brommare and the classical string Quartet Dahlkvistkvartetten.