'A vocal figure skater' makes his mark as Opera Hamlet

A small role in George Benjamin’s “Written on Skin” (2012) was Clayton’s first experience of having a role written for him. “To have som...


A small role in George Benjamin’s “Written on Skin” (2012) was Clayton’s first experience of having a role written for him. “To have someone write something for you, do an almost forensic investigation into your vocal ability, was thrilling,” he said.

Working with Dean on “Hamlet” was even more intense. First, Dean said, he recorded Clayton delivering many of the character’s soliloquies, “to hear where his voice sat and his natural rhythms.” In the workshops, Dean could “see and hear how he used the words and that influenced the flow of the rest of the play”.

By the time he finished writing the second act, he added: “Allan’s ease of singing high without having to belt him, the flexibility and ease of his voice, was all in my head. “

Matthew Jocelyn, whose libretto boldly cuts and reweaves different folio versions of Shakespeare’s text, said hearing Clayton in the workshops was both practical and intuitive. “He’s a vocal figure skater,” he said, and “he has this mobility that allows him to twirl and land, to go to extremes, both emotionally and vocally. Basically , he showed us that we didn’t need to be afraid of anything.

Clayton said he had read and researched the play, but felt he needed to be as truthful and personal as possible in the role. It was natural, he added, explore the darkness of Hamlet and imbue it with a feverish physique. “I move easily, I’ve always enjoyed sports and it seemed like a natural extension of Hamlet’s character,” he said. “He’s light on his feet both mentally and physically.”

Opera director Neil Armfield said Clayton’s freedom as a performer brought many staging ideas to life. “He’s a beautiful physical performer, he has the freedom of a ballet dancer without any self-awareness,” he said. “It fueled a physical sense of something adolescent in Hamlet, his attachment to grief, his breaking of social rules, his mischievousness and his overactive joy.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'A vocal figure skater' makes his mark as Opera Hamlet
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