Allan Clayton takes the title role in Brett Dean's opera Hamlet, and plays the character with such a youthful playfulness that it does well to lighten the mood of the piece. Within the opening five minutes, Clayton bounds across the dinner table in his scrappy suit, in stark contrast to the impeccably dressed guests.
On a technical level, Hamlet is stunning. The choral singers nail difficult harmonies and coalesce into a stunning cacophony which adds to the menace and depth of the narrative. The simple staging restricts the audience's view to a tight and focused space, which is used effectively to denote indoor and outdoor settings, aided by eerie lighting and shadow.
Dean has cut up the well-known play into fragments and strewn its shards throughout. The iambic pentameter is gone; within the opening scenes Clayton presents a clipped "Or not... or not to be" with a sense of purpose and agitation.
This is an opera in every sense of the word, and as such won't be suited to all tastes, but the quality of Clayton's performance and vocal ability is worth the trip.