Want to explore Covent Garden's Winter programme?
That someone was Gerald Barry, a composer of startling originality and an avowedly surrealistic sensibility. When premiered in Los Angeles, it became a sensation; in London, critics stood both scandalized at Barry’s liberty-taking approach and delighted by his madness. Now, as part of the Royal Opera House Winter programme, it returns to the Barbican Centre for five nights. If you like your music eclectic and your comedy extreme, this is the show for you.
Director Ramin Grey’s production sets the action in a modernistic void, strewn with props and prone to destruction. This matches Barry’s music, which grabs elements from the past and distorts them into something new. So there’s snatches of Auld Lang Syne and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and parodies of the atonal masterpieces of the early twentieth century. At times it becomes a howling tangle of horns, underscoring vocals that range from motormouth to drawling. This is a highly choreographed vision of complete chaos, with a comic daring unmatched by most contemporary opera.
Much of the 2013 cast reprise their roles. Benedict Nelson (Billy Budd) becomes the dandyish Algernon, with tenor Paul Curievici as his best friend Jack. Stephanie Marshall, mezzo-soprano, plays Jack’s beloved Gwendolen, while contralto Hilary Summers returns as Miss Prism. And, in a casting move that helps to magnify the productions insanity, rumbling Irish bass Alan Ewing depicts the fearsome Lady Bracknell. Claudia Boyle makes her Royal Opera debut as Jack’s ward Cecily, and conductor Tim Murray holds the baton.
|What||The Importance of Being Earnest, Barbican Centre|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
29 Mar 16 – 03 Apr 16, 7:30 PM – 9:45 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Albert Hall|