sat 29/02/2020

Thomas Adès, London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Thomas Adès, London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall

Thomas Adès, London Symphony Orchestra, Barbican Hall

Gerald Barry's one-act opera, La plus forte, is one of the most significant for a decade

Barbara Hannigan (above left, Adès, right, conducting the US premiere in Miami, 2008) is 'mesmerising as the garrulous Madame X'
If the second half of the 20th century saw opera throttled by existential crises, and left composers wondering whether the only future for the art form was for it to be hung out to dry, or to become an arcane intellectualised annex for the musical games then in vogue, Gerald Barry's one-act opera, La plus forte (2006) - receiving its UK premiere in a concert performance last night - marks the end of hostilities. So effortlessly does Barry seem to rise above the tangled, stagnant realities of recent operatic and musical convention, and return and restore the art form to the business of psychological entrapment, that it's hard not to see his small, 20-minute work as one of the most significant operas of the past decade.


Sounds intriguing. Barry's The Intelligence Park baffled me, but The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant was one of the most compelling new operas I've seen, easily trumping the playsafe antics of Ades's The Tempest.

Totally agree about the Barry. A brilliant piece of work. The three Ades pieces were an interesting look into his development as a composer. Fabulous stuff. Not a bad review, just a shame the picture is not of last night's performance, and isn't even the LSO!

Very much agree with you, Alice. La Plus Forte is probably the most compelling opera I've seen since Bitter Tears. Very tricky to get a pic of last night's performance, Dan, but have hopefully made this one clearer.

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters