World premiere: Gerald Barry’s Alice’s Adventures under Ground


Gerald Barry’s new opera Alice’s Adventures under Ground follows the immense success of The Importance of Being Earnest in 2011, which has been performed all over the world, most recently to sold-out audiences in London and at Lincoln Center, New York, and has been heralded as a masterpiece of modern opera.

Alice’s Adventures Under Ground received its world premiere in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles on 22nd November with the LA Philharmonic, and its European premiere in London at the Barbican with Britten Sinfonia.


“The performance simply took the breath away. Is there anything that Hannigan can’t do? Along with a spectacular vocal display, she portrayed a feisty, not-your-grandfather’s-Alice and even did a bit of conducting.”
– Mark Swed, LA Times, 23 November 2016

“Barbara Hannigan as Alice has vocal gymnastics that leave most sopranos standing at the lights”
– Cara Chanteau, The Independant , 29 November 2016

“Barbara Hannigan as Alice, got up in a suitably winsome dress, and handling Barry’s fearsomely challenging soprano writing – with its torrents of syllables that habitually run up to top C and sometimes beyond – as if it was the easiest thing in the world.”
– Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 29 November 2016

“Who else but soprano Barbara Hannigan could be Barry’s Alice? This long-standing collaboration has already yielded the deliciously brittle Cecily Cardew in Earnest (who could forget that loudspeaker battle with Gwendolen) and La Plus Forte – a one-act opera for soprano and orchestra – and now an Alice who has long since left off playing the straight man to the fantastical folk around her, and has joined them in their colourful madness. Matching the orchestra scale for scale in a virtuoso opening, it’s Hannigan who sets up the opera’s curious additional narrative in which rabbit-hole activities (croquet matches, knights’ duels, tea parties) become the surreal double for musical ones, whether piano lessons or singer’s warm-ups.”
– Alexandra Coghlan, Broadway World, 29 November 2016

“Huge demands are also made of the seven singers, playing more than 50 parts between them. Only Barbara Hannigan escapes: she is “just” Alice, but Barry gives her an astonishing vocal workout. She must hit more top Cs in her crazy first solo — a coloratura duel with the orchestra, hilariously illustrating the word “down” — than most sopranos sing in a year.”
– Richard Morrison, The Times, 29 November 2016

photo credit: Broadway World