Here we go – our first blog post! We chose an opera to begin “Pumps and Playbills” (go big or go home). A good opera has subtitles, a girl-gone-crazy from love and dramatic deaths. Minnesota Opera’s product of Thomas’ Hamlet had me picking my jaw off the floor and wishing for more.
The opera is sung in French with English captions. I don’t speak French (honestly, I don’t really like singing in French), but this cast makes you feel the music and understand the story without the captions. And any cast that makes your forget you are in a theater for almost three hours is good in my book. Brian Mulligan’s powerful baritone voice commands the stage as he sings the leading role of Hamlet. You feel the love, anger and revenge that Hamlet experiences through his voice.
Now, my favorite part of the show – love-struck girl gone crazy! Marie-Eve Munger sang the part of Ophelia effortlessly stealing the show from Hamlet. She hits every high note known to man as she slowly sinks into madness onstage. SPOILER ALERT: After Ophelia dies, she appears back onstage suspended in a cloud!!! She sings in the air like it is a natural process. I had to pick my jaw off the floor! Bravo to Munger!
After Ophelia dies, I lost track of the number of deaths in the show. The deaths were disappointing because every person that walked on the stage had a beautiful voice. Rarely do you find a cast of this caliber. Wayne Tigges and Katharine Goelner give stunning performances as Claudis (the new King of Denmark) and Queen Gertrude. Although everyone dies in the end, it was a treat to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes with them and this fantastic show. To go or not to go that is the question….not really, go see this show!
Who knew that such a dark, depressing story would inspire me so much. (Those of you out there who have studied psychology probably have a thing or two to say about that.) The story I am referencing is none other than Minnesota Opera’s take on Shakespeare’s classic, Hamlet. While the countless adaptions may not inspire another tryst to Denmark, leave your expectations at the door (the wonderful Ordway doormen would be happy to take those for you, I’m sure) and give the story yet another go.
Hamlet is a studded pair of Doc Martens.
Set in 1950’s Denmark, the performance began with some wonderful sensory overload. There was cheering, singing, color, light, and things falling from the ceiling- I was sucked in from the start. Word of advice: While you should always try to get to the theater on time, if you go to see Hamlet, get there on time! This production made a strong statement. We all know that the story itself is extreme, and this adaptation highlights those extremities. Strong and imaginative set design accent the effortless singing and powerful acting.
Like a studded pair of Doc Martens, this take on Hamlet was extreme, but appropriate with the right styling and execution. Styled incorrectly, this shoe could make Kate Middleton look like an angst-ridden teen. The same is true of this take on Hamlet. Certain elements which make this production stand out strongly in my mind could easily have been tasteless had they not been styled correctly. Just as a studded pair of Doc Martens makes a strong statement, so does this take on Hamlet. This is not a production that whispers, but one that shouts.
Want to learn more about this adaptation? Take a moment to read this great interview with Hamlet’s director, Thaddeus Strassberger. (The interview is below the synopsis.)
When? March 2, 5, 7, 9, 10
Where? Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington Street, St. Paul, MN
How? Call 612-333-6669 or visit MNOpera.org for tickets or more information.
Use the code blog20 to get $20 tickets for the performance this Tuesday, March 5.