Curiouser and curiouser: Thomas Adès on Gerald Barry's Wonderland

Gerald Barry’s new opera based on Alice in Wonderland is as breathless and surreal as Carroll’s novel. The conductor explains how Ode to Joy, a Russian Jabberwocky and wind machines all make perfect nonsense. • Photo essay: Behind the scenes at Alice’s Adventures in the Under Ground Gerald Barry’s music inhabits the same kind of space that Lewis Carroll’s Alice books do. Carroll might not have put it like this (he was writing pre-Freud), but in his books and their anarchic free-association, he let his id – his subconscious – run riot. The stories are full of surreal combinations of everyday things, from jam tarts to a baby that turns into a pig, from talking playing cards to living chess pieces. There are riddles, poems, parodies, wordplay and plain nonsense. There’s a darkness and exhilarating danger about it all because anything can happen. Barry’s music is like this too. His compositions are a Frankenstein mashup of found sounds, whistles, shouts and spoken words; snatches of tunes, old music hall songs