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Work of the Week – Gerald Barry: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground

On 3 February, the world premiere staging of Gerald Barry’s opera Alice’s Adventures Under Ground opens on the main stage of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden conducted by Thomas Adès and directed by Antony McDonald. Composed between 2013-15 on a joint commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Barbican Centre in London, and Britten Sinfonia.

Barry’s sixth opera to date, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground followed on the immense success of The Importance of Being Earnest, which since its premiere in 2011 has been performed all over the world and has been heralded as a masterpiece of modern opera. Alice is based on both of Lewis Carroll’s famous books, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass in a libretto created by the composer. Like its predecessor Earnest, Barry strips the stories to their bones, cramming them into 55 minutes of bold music and surreal, laugh-out-loud comedy.

Gerald Barry – Alice’s Adventures Under Ground: a surreal and funny story

The book is very dramatic, and is an ideal vehicle for divas, male or female. It’s tremendous material for showing off – it takes these unbelievable things for granted, viewing them as normal. – Gerald Barry

Alice will be performed twice a day by a double cast on 4, 6, 8, and 9 February. The co-production with Netherlands Opera and Irish National Opera will be seen in Amsterdam and Ireland in future seasons. Also this spring, on 4 March at St Giles’ Cripplegate, the BBC Singers will present a portrait concert of Barry’s choral works and his new Cello Concerto will receive its world premiere by Tatjana Vassiljeva and RTÉ Concert Orchestra at Music for Galway’s Cellissimo Festival on 29 April.