Saturday, 25 June 2011

Nico Muhly Two Boys ENO

Nico Muhly says he likes "shiny things" which might, or might not explains something. Shiny things are instantly attractive, but often they don't turn outr so great. Manhattan was sold for a few shiny baubles. Bubbles sparkle but there's nothing inside. Last year Mulhy arrived in Britain as part of a massive publicity campaign. Lots of coverage of his music. Conscientiously I listened carefully, and to much of the music in the latest publicity blitz. Muhly's persona is shaped so he's presented as a new Britten, minus the quirky originality that makes Britten so challenging. There are many who think it's OK to design music for public consumption. However there are still some who think true art just "is" and springs from deeper sources. Muhly's marketed as vaguely British which sells well in some places, where any "British" is siupposed to be classy.  It's effective product placement. However in Britain we have a lot of the real thing. On the other hand, no-one wants to rock the boat. What bugs me is that we are being used so that when the show opens at the Met they can quote how ecstatic the British Press were, when it's not necessarily the case. So please see Boulezian who stands up and says what he thinks. And here's the one in Opera Today. (good on the "achingly trendy" aspect.) What bothers me about Two Boys at the ENO is that hardly anyone mentions anything about the music. The publicity is all skewed towards building up Muhly's persona and about the premise of the plot (as opposed to plot development). Subjects like that have been part of opera since Monteverdi. So what's new? Nothing wrong with this per se but if the music were strong enough on its own would it need so much window dressing? Everyone adored A Dog's Heart, but would anyone listen to that composer as music, without Complicité?

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