Alex Ambrose is the managing producer for Q2 Music, WQXR’s online station and website devoted to discovery, curiosity and vibrant 21st-century music.
Two Boys Provoking Debate
Nico Muhly's First Opera, Two Boys, Explores the Dark Side of the Internet
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Though New Yorkers will unfortunately have to wait until the Met Opera's 2013-2014 season to see a local production of Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher's staging of Nico Muhly's first opera, Two Boys (premiering in late June at the English National Opera), it seems like we're now more than ever bombarded with the dark and lurid issues that this complex, cautionary tale raises.
With the ever-developing disgrace of local Congressman Anthony Weiner, pervasive tales of online identity theft, controversial jokes about anti-gay violence erupting into online firestorms, well-documented perils of Internet staples, Craigslist, Twitter and Facebook, aggressive cyberattacks on an already beleaguered International Monetary Fund, it's no leap of faith to say that Two Boys -- a opera about Internet obsession, deception and violence -- will resonate strongly with audiences, local and international.
Based on actual events taken from the English tabloids in 2004 and with a libretto worked for over a year by Nico Muhly and collaborator, Craig Lucas, Two Boys, is the story of one investigator's plunge into the dangerous, erotic world of online sex and identity perversion following a video-documented, violent crime.
In order to unpack Two Boys and discuss the issues of anti-gay violence, the malleability of identity that the Internet allows, and the dangers of an age increasingly dominated by avatars and social media, the English National Opera convened an esteemed panel including composer Nico Muhly, polemicist Will Self, journalist Norman Lebrecht and Director of the Institute of Ideas, Claire Fox. Watch the entire debate, entitled "Are we making monsters?", below and join the conversation with your own observations and/or premonitions.