Carnegie Hall: Scoring a Triumph

Classic Arts Features   Carnegie Hall: Scoring a Triumph
 
Gerald Barry's new opera will have its New York premiere March 28. The Irish composer free-associates: "The passing of time, horrible. Vanity/yearning, as little as possible. Ecstasy, yes. To manage as many delicious moments as one can. Now."


Ecstasy. Delicious moments. Enticed? Read on. Barry gives the age-old seize-the-day theme a contemporary twist in his 2002 opera The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit. With an all-male cast, the work was inspired by Handel's 1758 oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth, a piece that underscores pleasure's inevitable demise. Barry's Triumph, however, celebrates the prolongation of one's present pleasure. "I took a stubborn stance against Time's inevitability," Barry says, "and enjoyed having Pleasure win."

Barry's Triumph demands much of his performers, coupling vocal lines of lightning speed with a harsh Stravinskian instrumentation. "Virtuosity has always fascinated me," he says, observing that "if the singing and music are virtuosic enough, they will somehow suspend the passage of time, like an elixir." And the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, which gives the opera its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall on March 28, is up to the challenge.

Also known as the BCMG, the ensemble‹conducted this season by Thomas Ads, current holder of Carnegie Hall's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair‹is renowned for its "spunky musicianship" and specializes in fresh repertoire. That includes music by Ads himself, and, in fact, the musicians will return to Zankel Hall the following night to give an all-Ads program under the composer's direction, topping off their version of Triumph.

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