First performed in 2011, Gerald Barry’s new opera The Importance of Being Earnest is fast becoming a modern classic. Based on Oscar Wilde’s farcical comedy about sex and deceit, the opera had previously been a huge hit in Los Angeles, Nancy and London.
This hilarious work was first performed in Los Angeles in 2011 at the L.A. Philharmonic and subsequently at the Lindbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, London last year (2012). The Financial Times hailed it “A unique piece of music theatre that would surely have had Wilde smiling at its pure outrageousness”, while The Independent (UK) called it “a manic, renegade thrill…the most confident, volatile comic opera for a decade”, whilst The Guardian praised the score’s “sheer uninhibited exuberance”. Featuring orchestral parts for pistols, a duet sung through megaphones and a climax of plate smashing, this is no ordinary opera! It is, however, a hilarious and astonishing contemporary work that perfectly captures the spirit of one of Ireland’s best-loved playwrights and one of Ireland’s greatest living composer.
“Wilde’s contribution cannot be underestimated, but Barry’s exhilarating music, often conveying the text in disjointed syllables, enhances the illogical, the farcical, and the tempo of the words. None of his distinctive musical language – with its fast scales, jagged melodic lines and rhythmic quirkiness – is downplayed, though he does manage to include Auld Lang Syne and a couple of reinterpretations of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.”
The Irish Times
Wide Open Opera and NI Opera teamed up to present this first ever North-South opera production with performances in the Millennium Forum Derry (part of the 2013 Derry City of Culture programme), Grand Opera House Belfast, Cork Opera House and Gaiety Theatre Dublin.
“Barry has written that rare thing, a modern operatic comedy with wings.”
The Sunday Times
This new production benefitted from the genius of director/designer Antony McDonald, exquisite choreography of Lucy Burge and impeccable lighting by DM Wood. A virtuosic cast, led by the fearless Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly, took to the task of performing this work with relish and abandon.
“Visually and dramatically, McDonald has realised Barry’s surreal operatic world with wonderful precision. The images he has come up with and the way Lucy Burge’s choreography links them with the rampaging intensity of the instrumental riffs that punctuate the action seem all of an astonishingly vivid piece.“