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Gerald Barry

Composer

Biography

Gerald Barry in action.
Jennifer France in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera ©2020 ROH. Photograph by Clive Barda

Irish composer Gerald Barry made his Royal Opera debut in 2013 with a new production of his 2011 opera The Importance of Being Earnest, originally commissioned by Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican Centre.

Barry was born in Clare and studied in Amsterdam and Cologne with Peter Schat, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel, among others. He came to prominence in 1979 with works including ‘________’ and Ø. He has since received commissions from the BBC Proms (Chevaux-de-frise), BBC Symphony Orchestra (The Conquest of Ireland, Day, Wiener Blut), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (Dead March and Beethoven), London Sinfonietta (God Save the Queen and Feldman’s Sixpenny Editions), De Volharding Piano Quartet (Hard D), Ensemble 7Bridges (No People) and Bayerischer Rundfunk/Musica Viva and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (his Piano Concerto, written for Nicolas Hodges), among others. His first opera The Intelligence Park was commissioned by the ICA and first performed in 1990 at the Aldeburgh Festival. It was followed by The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit (2002, Channel 4 Television and Aldeburgh Festival), The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (2005, English National Opera), La Plus Forte (2007, Radio France), The Importance of Being Earnest, winner of the 2013 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-Scale Composition, and Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (2016, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Gustavo Dudamel, the Barbican Centre and Britten Sinfonia).

Barry’s music has been recorded by ensembles including RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Nash Ensemble, BCMG, the Almeida Ensemble, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Composers Ensemble, for NMC, Black Box Music, Metronome Records and Discovery Recordings.

News and features

Listen: The Importance of Being Earnest – ‘I think it would make other types of music laugh’

31 March 2016
Listen: <em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em> – ‘I think it would make other types of music laugh’

Four singers from The Royal Opera’s revival of Gerald Barry’s acclaimed operatic adaptation of Wilde’s classic play discuss food, convention and keeping a straight face.

Wilde at heart: the surreal brilliance of Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest

30 March 2016
Wilde at heart: the surreal brilliance of Gerald Barry’s <em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em>

Irish composer Gerald Barry defies common sense at every turn in his operatic adaptation of Wilde’s classic play, to surprisingly ingenious effect.

The Importance of Being Earnest Musical Highlight: ‘And this is what you call Bunburying?!’

21 March 2016
<em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em> Musical Highlight: ‘And this is what you call Bunburying?!’

Gerald Barry warps Oscar Wilde’s celebrated absurdist comedy into something even stranger in his brilliant operatic adaptation.

Photos

Jennifer France in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Mark Stone and Joshua Bloom in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Joshua Bloom in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Joshua Bloom, Mark Stone, Peter Tantsits and Sam Furness in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Claudia Boyle in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Clare Presland in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Nicky Spance, Jennifer France and Robert Murray in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Robert Murray in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Sam Furness in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Antony McDonald at ROH Insights Alice's Adventures Under Ground

Claudia Boyle and Hilary Summers in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Sam Furness, Peter Tantsits and Claudia Boyle in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Jennifer France in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Carole Wilson in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Robert Murray and Jennifer France in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Stephanie Marshall as Faranesi in The Intelligence Park, The Royal Opera

Stephanie Marshall as Faranesi in The Intelligence Park, The Royal Opera

Production photo of The Intelligence Park, The Royal Opera

Production photo of The Intelligence Park, The Royal Opera

Elaine Yeung in rehearsal for The Intelligence Park

Jessica Cottis in rehearsal for The Intelligence Park

Rehearsals for The Intelligence Park

Rehearsals for The Intelligence Park

Rehearsals for The Intelligence Park

Rehearsals for The Intelligence Park

Stephen Richardson and Nigel Lowery in rehearsal for The Intelligence Park

Rehearsals for The Intelligence Park

Jessica Cottis in rehearsal for The Intelligence Park

Stephen Richardson in rehearsal for The Intelligence Park