Two Boys by Nico Muhly
Two Boys is an opera by Nico Muhly. It is controversial, as apparently an opera must be to get ‘downtown’ attention. Two Boys opened last year at the English National Opera in London.
The boys in question are involved in a seamy murder mystery having met in a chat room. his is an “on-line” opera. The web it seems is an actual character in the piece. I’m surprised its taken this long. I’m glad a composer who probably never owned a typewriter or a long-playing record, is here to write opera. Because of the news cycle, it’s no longer important whether or not the opera attracts paying customers. It’s enough that Two Boys is getting people to talk about opera as a means of social commentary and interpersonal communication.
Two Boys opens in New York at the Metropolitan Opera on October 21. A new opera at the Met was unusual even ten years ago. Opera is the only art form that does not regularly re-energize with new work. The concert all, the theater, dance, the visual arts all depend and foster new symphonies, dances, art work, sculpture, etc. But opera? Opera is the synthesis o all the aforementioned art forms. That’s part of what makes opera so expensive to produce. You can’t do opera without musicians, set designers, directors, choreographers, lighting designers and backstage personnel. You can certainly do church basement opera (I do) but if you want to introduce a new work in a large way, you gotta pay.
Nico Muhly seems a good bet. At 31, he already has a huge catalog of music in every genre: lots of wonderful choral music, chamber music, ‘fusion’ scores with rock bands, Muhly ignores nothing. He doesn’t much like the wunderkind moniker but let’s face it, to some of us he’s a kid. A brilliant, precocious and savvy kid.
I have no idea if Two Boys is any good. Programming it at the Met is another effort to attract the elusive “no-traditional” audience. Good! Muhly has already proven himself as a com poser of impressive gifts. Not its the public’s turn. Are we up for it?