WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The full-length opera in three acts is Gerald Barry's typically idiosyncratic take on Oscar Wilde's definitive comedy of manners, complete with a whistling, marching, plate-smashing orchestra and gender-bending Lady Bracknell. Barry adapted the libretto himself, heavily cutting the original play to leave only the bare bones. Explaining his inspiration, the composer says: "I know of nothing like The Importance of Being Earnest - though perhaps it shares a subversion with Alice in Wonderland. The text revels in anarchy, and an Irish delight in the absurd - to the point of ecstasy." Reviewing the opera's world premiere in Los Angeles, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "The opera is hysterically funny. The score is highly sophisticated and indescribably zany. Although unstaged, the concert performance proved marvelous theater. The world now has something rare: a new genuinely comic opera and maybe the most inventive Oscar Wilde opera since Richard Strauss' 'Salome' more than a century ago"