GP at The Met: Hamlet
About the Opera

Baritone Simon Keenlyside, whose performance as Hamlet received rave reviews when this production by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser was introduced at the Metropolitan Opera, commands the stage in the opera’s premiere on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met, in primetime on Thursday, July 15 at 9 p.m. on THIRTEEN and on Sunday, July 18 at 12 noon on PBS (check local listings). Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

Watch a preview:

“Elegant and wrenching, intelligent and fitful,” wrote The New York Times of Keenlyside’s unforgettable performance. “You could not take your eyes off him.” Joining the baritone is German soprano Marlis Petersen as Hamlet’s heart-broken lover Ophélie. Louis Langrée conducts this performance that also features Jennifer Larmore as Gertrude, Toby Spence as Laërte and James Morris as Claudius.

When Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet had its premiere in 1868, the opera featured considerable departures from the original storyline of Shakespeare’s play, most notably a Hamlet who lives and is crowned king after killing Claudius. For the opera’s London premiere, Thomas rewrote the opera to provide a tragic ending that was more in line with the original play. This production first premiered in 1996 in Geneva and went on to London and Barcelona, using the original ending. For the Met, the directors and conductor devised a tragic finale that combines the original version with the revised ending composed later by Thomas. The opera was last performed at the Met in 1897 and is known for Ophélie’s famous mad scene.

Great Performances at the Met: Hamlet is directed for television by Brian Large and hosted by Renée Fleming. Jay David Saks is the audio producer. Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser make Met Opera debuts directing the production, as does set designer Christian Fenouillat, costume designer Agostino Cavalca, and lighting designer Christophe Forey. Hamlet is the ninth of 10 productions airing during the 2009-2010 season of Great Performances at the Met. The performance is sung in French with English surtitles.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®. Additional funding for Great Performances at the Met: Hamlet provided The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • david ernst

    To our local New York/THIRTEEN viewers,

    Please note the time change for tonight’s broadcast of GP @ the Met: Hamlet to 9 p.m. (from 8 p.m.)

  • Rebecca

    I caught the last hour – lovely! Wish this would repeat so that I could catch the rest of it. Thanks, PBS, for bringing opera to my TV!

  • Bernice Myers

    Please repeat. It was so great. The singers were remarkable. One more viewing please.

  • Merrikate

    Lucked into viewing the last hour this Sunday aft — so compelling, the gorgeous weather will have to wait for me to see this opera through! Hope it may be rebroadcast in my SW Ontario area again — and again?!

  • Ann Reid

    Why are there no credits for the composer, singers, directors? If one misses the very beginning the whole creative staff is a mystery! Especially since the credits at the end are UNREADABLE.

  • Vicente Molinos

    Caught the very end.Magnificent work.
    I read the early negative reviews of Thomas’s masterpiece. Befitting to a genius!

    Could you please repeat Hamlet and announce it well.


  • Patricia

    Thank you for this performance this August evening. I hardly moved from the chair for these hours. Bravo. Thank you and thank you.

  • Ruth Ann Harris

    A most beautiful telling of the Hamlet story….such wonderful singing by all the stars. Most impressive staging…I so want to see that production live at the Met. Will it be performed again there? I must say the orchestra was
    equally compelling. I have never been to the Met and love these live performances. This for me was STELLAR!!

  • P.A.Parly

    I agree. The cast was not mentioned at intermission and Rene Fleming did not even make that effort when interviewing Hamlet. The credits ran so fast, they were unreadable!! The production was very good, but the bass who sang Gertrude’s lover who supplanted Hamlet’s father, should retire because his vibrato is exceedingly excessive.

  • Bob Cocetti

    Even though there are no memorable arias in this production, I loved the Murder of Gonzaga at the end of Act I and Ophelia’s mad scene. This production takes the raw emotions in Hamlet’s story and makes maximum use of them.

  • Yonie Gille

    I agree with Ann Reid and P.A. Parley’s comments. the credits at the end are so fast they are unreadable.
    The singing was stupendous all the way through, mesmerizing. But I was disappointed to see my old friend James Morris looking so portly and alas! his vibrato is very wide. But I remember his Wotan: superb!
    Give us more of these magnificent performances. Also why not tape THEATER PLAYS and show them in Great Performances? There are virtually NO plays on PBS.

  • david ernst

    Dear Yonie,

    We are so glad you enjoyed Great Performances at the Met: Hamlet. However, you should be aware that last year Great Performances aired two plays; Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Kevin Kline and King Lear, starring Sir Ian McKellen.

    This April we aired a wonderful production of Hamlet from the Royal Shakespeare Company starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart and we have an exciting upcoming production of Macbeth, also starring Patrick Stewart which is scheduled to air on October 6th at 9pm (check local listings).

    We’re always working on incorporating more drama programming into Great Performances and we hope you stay tuned for them!

  • Suzanne

    The “new” King is Claudius, and he was sung by James Morris, who, at the age of 63, is getting on for an operatic performer. He retired his “Wotan” at the Met in 2009 and probably should be letting his other roles go, as well. Although he once possessed a magnificent Bass-Baritone voice, it has gradually deteriorated over the past 5+years and his performances now can be uneven, at best.

  • Phillip Page

    Where can I find a schedule of UPCOMING Great Performances for the 2010-2011 season. I am especially interested in the GP at the Met opera screenings. Thanks. Phillip Page

  • Ally

    I missed this broadcast as it co-incided with the time my mother was dying, and I was spending the days in the hospital. In the past, many of your GP at the Met performances were re-broadcasts during re-runs season, but not this year or on January 1st. Please consider re-broadcasting this performance during the holiday season.

    Also, for some reason there was very little opera programming October-December. There is also no indication about GP at the Met during 2010-2011 season. Any advance information would be appreciated. Incidentally, the earlier this information is known the more likely it’ll get more viewers. PBS doesn’t seem to be that good as far as advertising goes. I am getting WNET/Thirteen, lower NY state. Thank you for bringing GP at the Met to us and PLEASE continue the series and consider adding more opera programming.

  • Carol Green

    Will there any PBS – TV performances in 2011? If yes, I’d like schedule.

  • James Harrison

    I have been trying to find a schedule of the Great Performances at the Met but have not been able too. I noticed that the people who asked this question in 2010 did not get a reply. Why do you not put a link on the site so that we can see the schedule.

  • tdy

    If these programs are to be available for greater consumption, information on them must be available.
    Where can a schedule for a TV presentation and repeat performance be found.

  • Donald squillace

    Thanks great performances for the great operas. however why don’t you have other opera companies other than the Met? Surely you know that great things musically happen globally.

    Morris sounds just fine. Usually I object to over the hill singers hurting the ears of audiences and.taking up space from better singers. Often at the Met that is the case, but not here.

  • david ernst

    Dear Donald,

    We do feature other opera companies! Last year we featured LA Opera’s Il Postino and later this year we’ll be broadcasting Jake Heggie’s new opera Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera. We tend to focus a little more on American ensembles because we’re funded in-part by generous “Viewers Like You” and by PBS which in-turn is funded, in part, by the U.S.’ Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And we love working with our partners at the Metropolitan Opera, of course!

  • Robbin

    I only just found the schedule for this season finally posted under the Great Performances 40th Season and then once you get there you go under great performances @ the Met- Season Seven. A little late to see the ones that started on PBS inJanuary. However for next year I will know to start looking in January. Looks like this year they are about every 2 weeks. Hope this helps.

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