Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

A Wilde, unique night at the opera

Irish composer Gerald Barry's production has created more of a stir in the past eight months than most new operas do in a lifetime.

This NI Opera production is its third new staging this year, an incredible statistic for contemporary opera. What is the fuss about?

It's certainly not because Barry seeks to mimic the superficially refined drawing-room manners of Oscar Wilde's original comedy.

On the contrary, his score has a wild, anarchic energy about it, translating its characters to an explicitly post-modern context.

Antony McDonald both designs and directs, bringing a sharpness of imagination and invention matching shard-like acerbities and unpredictability of the music.

A punky, shock-haired Gwendolen, and a male Lady Bracknell given to fly-fishing indoors and wearing thigh waders, are just two of his brilliantly vivid, revealing creations. The singing is solid and the acting excellent.

Mozart and Puccini this isn't. It is hugely, riotously engaging and an absolute must-see on its only Belfast show on Wednesday at the Grand Opera House.


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