Allan Clayton on his role in Handel’s Saul and spare time in Sussex

Allan Clayton as Hamlet (Photo by Richard Hubert Smith)

Allan Clayton as Hamlet (Photo by Richard Hubert Smith) - Credit: Archant

Lewes-based Opera singer Allan Clayton tells Simone Hellyer about the new challenges of his latest role in Handel’s Saul at Glyndebourne and describes how he spends his spare time in Sussex

Saul at Glyndebourne: 19 July to 25 August 2018

Audiences can expect to see an all-singing, all-dancing affair, which is not what you would expect from a Handel opera.

I’m playing Jonathan, who is the son of Saul. My character ends up being killed by his father because he sides with David [his father’s rival]. Last year was the first time I have ever died on stage. In this one I die at the end of the second of three acts and then I get covered in earth and have to lie there, while the chorus trample around me.

My character’s devotion to David is very touching.

In this production it’s played as a romantic love. I have never played a gay character before, so it will be interesting to explore that, especially as a mate of mine is playing the part of David, which should make for some awkward snogging scenes.

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The director, Barrie Kosky, always brings out some really interesting aspects of the characters.

I’ve just been doing another piece with him in Berlin and he never lets the character sit still.

Because Glyndebourne isn’t located in a big city, it has more of a family feel to it.

And because it’s a festival, from March to August you have five or six different shows running, which means that you have different casts from around the world coming together and mixing socially in a way that you don’t get as much in opera houses in cities.

My favourite character to play is Hamlet, which I got to perform at Glyndebourne last year.

I spent the summer here in Lewes and about two years leading up to the show getting ready for it and then just diving headfirst into it with all of the other singers, the orchestra and everyone behind the scenes. Everyone was just incredible. And it was a real triumph for Glyndebourne, which is a really lovely thing to see. As someone who lives locally, it’s always exciting when something like that happens.

I’m not from a musical family, but as soon as I started singing in a cathedral choir in Worcester, I began to enjoy music.

I like to listen to electronic dance music at home. I just downloaded the new Chvrches album and lately I’ve been listening to Jon Hopkins and Childish Gambino.

I have to force myself to sleep every night before a show.

A lot of people like to get up early, go for a walk and do exercise, but I’m far too lazy for that.

In my spare time I love going to The Ram in Firle to watch a bit of cricket.

Plus, I always enjoy going to Seven Sisters to either sit on the beach or brave the sea at Birling Gap. And having Brighton just ten minutes down the road is great. I still haven’t made it to a game at the Amex yet, but I’m hoping to get tickets to a Brighton vs Liverpool match next season.

After Saul I am doing a couple of concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle.

Then for BBC Proms I will be performing in the The War Requiem by Benjamin Britten to celebrate the anniversary of the end of World War I. Then I’m back to Berlin for most of the rest of the year, in Candide by Leonard Bernstein.


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