David Butt Philip – photo supplied by Glyndebourne


GLYNDEBOURNE  –  including HAMLET, November 14-18 at Norwich Theatre Royal

David Butt Philip is set to play the lead role in Glyndebourne’s long-awaited production of Hamlet which is one of three of their operas coming to Norwich Theatre Royal this autumn. An imaginative and emotional new operatic production of Shakespeare’s iconic play, it takes to the stage on Friday 17 November. Norwich Eye caught up with David for a chat about the production.


Home is…?
“I live in Beckenham in Kent with my wife and one year-old daughter. Close enough to London to not feel like I’m missing out but far enough away to not feel like we live in a big city”.

Where do you like to stay on tour?
“As a touring opera singer I am very familiar with Travelodge and Premier Inn, but if I’m only staying one night, I’ll opt for wherever is as close to the theatre as possible”.

What is a typical Glyndebourne tour day like for you?
“Family matters tend to take priority nowadays so I will be commuting from home to each of the tour venues. I’ll then check in to my hotel, find the theatre, locate my dressing room and then begin the second most important task of the day – researching where to eat. I try to do very little more than that in order to stay as mentally and physically fresh as possible for the evening’s performance.

Playing such an iconic role as Hamlet obviously comes with a huge responsibility, but one of the many wonderful things about Brett Dean’s opera is his truly innovative take on the story. I still get to deliver the anticipated text and play out the well-known original scenes, but in doing so, get to present a Hamlet that subverts all preconceived ideas of this story in a very new, often startling way.

I was cast as Laertes in Glyndebourne’s premiere of this production in June, so I have been involved in the creative process from the very first days of rehearsal. I have first-hand experience of just what it takes to learn, rehearse & perform this role. I hope that I can do justice to the astonishing work that has already been put into this production and helped it achieve such universal critical acclaim”.

What are your essential objects when on tour?
“Technology. My iPad and good, noise-cancelling headphones. I also need access to wi-fi or a TV if my football team Liverpool is playing”.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Not to think too much about the result, or actually the audience, but to focus on doing the job to the best of your ability, trust the work and colleagues on and off stage, and the rest will follow”.

Do you have any favourite places in Norwich?
“Norwich has some terrific pubs which is very important when touring. The Belgian Monk is a favourite of mine”.

About the Glyndebourne Hamlet

Hamlet is a story of betrayal, revenge and madness

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?

‘The themes of life and death, love and betrayal have opera written all over them.’
—Brett Dean, Composer

Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been reconfigured for a world premiere.

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.

Sung in English with English supertitles

Così fan tutte, Tuesday 14 November at 7.15pm and Thursday 16 November at 2pm. Il barbiere di Siviglia, Wednesday 15 November at 7.15pm and Saturday 18 November at 7.15pm. Hamlet, Friday 17 November at 7.15pm. Tickets £8-£55. Discounts for Under-18s, Schools, Groups and Savers. Please note Supertitles are not visible from Stalls seats in Rows Q-W. Buy a full-price ticket for Hamlet in Bands A-C and get £10 off the same price ticket for Cosi or Barbiere.
To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000