So. There is an opera of Hamlet.
This is a thing that exists.
Honestly, I enjoyed it; it is BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, I loved the music, the set, the costumes, the concept behind staging it all with a an iron curtain/fascist context.
Ok. So, there are apparently a couple different versions of the opera—the original has Hamlet and Ophelia living at the end of the play. You heard that right. The original composer thought that Hamlet was too bloody of a play, so he…wrote…a fixit fanfic, and set it to beautiful music. And the French loved it.
When they took it to England, they realized that the English…might not appreciate the happy ending. Y’know. They had a hunch. Hamlet is just considered one of the greatest English plays ever written, and if you called it a national treasure you wouldn’t be laughed out of the room.
So, he grudgingly put in the end where everybody dies. He just…added it. So everybody dies. But not in the context of the story, and certainly not as a tragic family all getting their comeuppances and having their tragic flaws exposed for all the world to see, and resulting in their demise—they just…die.
So, it’s a fixit fanfic, fixed again.
It also had some interesting stuff in it, traditional-Hamlet-wise.
A lot of parts were necessarily…uh…not there. Like. Polonius has like one line in the entire show. And he’s super competent, and totally in on Claudius’s plot, and doesn’t make an ass out of himself at all. And Horatio…
Ok. So in this production, its pretty clear that Hamlet is completely off his rocker, and it’s all set off by Horatio and Banquo being drunk and telling Hamlet they saw his father’s ghost. Then passing out and forgetting about it.
They don’t really do much else, Hamlet and Horatio don’t bother talking, they aren’t really buddies. Like I said. Fanfiction.
The oddest addition to the opera vs the play has got to be the wine is awesome, lets all drink our troubles away song. Where Hamlet gets totally plastered and the players have just done their thing, and Claudius is freaking out, and suddenly, in front of the whole court, Hamlet starts shrieking (singing beautifully!) that there is the proof of Claudius and Gertrude’s guilt, and the whole court starts staring at Hamlet, and then they all start singing about how drunk poor, mad, Hamlet is.
That, ah, didn’t happen in the play. Just in the opera.
See, I’m going to have trouble talking about this as an opera and not as Hamlet. Because I love Hamlet. And this opera was great—really! It was great! But I couldn’t separate it from Hamlet. And I just felt like I was watching the highest budget fanfiction I’ve ever seen.
Now, I do love fanfiction. So go. See it. Watch Hamlet lose his mind, and Ophelia finally getting her death monologue, and singing one of the most amazing arias I’ve heard on the stage (not as awesome as Lucia or Night Queen’s, but in that category. Seriously, it was good). Watch Ophelia’s madness be more than literary madness—she sort of went with a borderline/depressive/manic angle, complete with self-harm behaviors from the beginning.
So! Onto my wife’s sketches!