In Tune with Gerald Barry


The Wide Open Opera production of Gerald Barry’s most recent opera, The Importance of Being Earnest, is currently touring Ireland to rave reviews. The Sunday Times critic, Hugh Canning, described it as ‘that rare thing, a modern operatic comedy with wings’ and predicted that it may become a classic of the operatic repertoire. Gerald Barry is an adjunct professor at the Music Composition Centre, TCD.

Beauty and deceit

One of Barry’s earlier operas, The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, is on display in the Long Room exhibition In Tune: a millennium of music in Trinity College Library. This opera shows Barry’s fondness for using pre-existing material in a subversive way. The libretto by Meredith Oakes is based on Handel’s last oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth (1757), a moralistic allegory in which Beauty is persuaded by Time and Truth to renounce Pleasure in order to nurture the soul. In the reworking by Oakes and Barry, Time and Truth are outmanoeuvred through the machinations of Deceit, leaving Beauty free to pursue Pleasure. Barry’s strong influence over the text is clear from his handwritten amendments to successive drafts of Oakes’ libretto, as seen in this excerpt from Act II.

In Tune, sponsored by KBC Bank, runs until April 2014.The exhibition is also available online

Roy Stanley

Music Librarian