The concert opera format benefited from solid performances by the two leads, both of whom demonstrated assurance with and flair for Thomas’s romantic score. South Africa’s Jacques Imbrailo, in his D.C. debut, rose to the challenge of the lengthy title role with a penetrating, limber baritone and brooding, immediate singing that showed him particularly adept at handling the musical and dramatic demands of the role of the Danish prince bent on revenge.
He was well-matched by his Ophélie, Lisette Oropesa, who melded dramatic sensitivity with a clean, pearly soprano. The technically demanding mad scene, the conclusion to the opera’s broad-strokes depiction of Ophélie’s fragility, was delivered with a delicate effortlessness.
The fiery Eve Gigliotti as Hamlet’s adulterous mother, Gertrude, and Jonas Hacker’s strikingly elegant Laërte, Ophélie’s brother, were equally strong supports, and Antony Walker, WCO’s artistic director, led the orchestra with vigor throughout the 3½ -hour performance. In the spring, the WCO will present one of Verdi’s operas of political and familial intrigue, “Simon Boccanegra.” For the sake of politically beleaguered D.C. audiences, may it have all the exuberance of this “Hamlet.”