Music: Nico Muhly
Libretto: Craig Lucas
Conductor: Rumon Gamba
Director: Bartlett Sher
Set: Michael Yeargan
Lighting: Don Holder
Projection and Animation: Leo Warner, Mark Grimmer and Peter Stenhouse
Additional Animation: Zsolt Balogh and Bence Varga
Costumes: Catherine Zuber
Read more about this production or book tickets on the ENO website
London Coliseum, June 24th 2011
A teenage boy is stabbed. An older boy is caught on CCTV leaving the scene. An open-and-shut case, it would seem. But, as Detective Inspector Anne Strawson investigates the older boy's story, she uncovers a bizarre nexus of chatroom meetings, mysterious internet identities, supposed spy rings and disturbing cybersex, leading to a stunning conclusion.
Loosely inspired by actual events that occured in an English industrial city, Nico Muhly's new opera is a cautionary tale of the dark side of the internet.
With a libretto by Craig Lucas, screenwriter of Prelude to a Kiss and Reckless and video design by Fifty Nine Productions, whose work has been a key feature of such recent ENO triumphs as Doctor Atomic and Satyagraha, this new co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, is directed by Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher, making his UK opera debut.
For more information visit the Two Boys microsite
To book tickets click here
"Sher’s staging is wonderfully amorphous and yet effortlessly focused, the grey surfaces of Michael Yeargan’s sliding towers and panels bathed in amazing cyber graphics from 59 Productions... Muhly’s masterstroke and final polyphony...unites us all in a desire not to go “unsung” from this world. This last five minutes alone make for an auspicious operatic debut.
"The ingenious projections of Fifty-Nine Productions beguilingly visualise the internet as a twinkling cosmological constellation…there’s no denying the craftsmanship of the score (efficiently conducted by Rumon Gamba), nor the moody, film noir atmosphere of Bartlett Sher’s English National Opera production."
"The projections and animations by 59 Productions - with striking use of computer-generated graphics - together with Michael Yeargan's sets for Bartlett Sher's production, are a tour de force and the twists and turns of the drama are edge-of-seat stuff."
"Director Bartlett Sher and set designer Michael Yeargan have joined forces with Mark Grimmer and Leo Warner, of 59 Productions, who were responsible for the projections and animations that bring extravagant, pulsing life to this authentically computer-age opera."
"Michael Yeargan's wonderfully efficient design includes...huge movable structures, peopled by lonely figures sitting hunched over their computers, veritable towers of babel as they tap away at their inanities, communicating and yet not communicating. Overlaying it all are some truly arresting video projections by 59 Productions, allowing instant changes of time and place and displaying the ceaseless litany of chatroom blather."
"The English National Opera has vigorously pursued a policy of commissioning new operas and new productions of old ones. Sometimes this has been distinctly less than successful, but when it works as powerfully as in Muhly's new work, the result can be astounding."
"Director Bartlett Sher’s assured staging — a co-production with New York’s Met — claustrophobically captures this geeky, multi-faceted cyberworld with minimalist sets and brilliant video projections.
But the real revelation of the evening is Muhly’s score. It’s his first opera, and the vocal and orchestral writing is rich and accessible.
"Muhly's best invention is reserved for the chorus and its orchestral accompaniment. There are some tremendous tuttis, not least the concluding pasacaglia, and it is a stroke of inspiration to deploy massed voices as an image of the world wide web itself. Combined with the large contribution of the design team, 59 Productions, whose laser projections play continually across the gauzed steel towers of Michael Yeargan's gloomily cavernous set, the choral writing brilliantly conveys the newfangled, relentless, threatening global babble."
"Stealing the show, however…were the graphics from Fifty Nine Productions and the way they worked their projections out over the choral writing. One breathtaking scene saw screen-saver geometry explode like fireworks over a veiled chorus of online chatterers, intermittently illuminating them and their computers. Their unsynchronised psalmody (in chatroom speak) resembled the ravishingly ragged feel of a Russian Orthodox congregation….overall this was a terrific evening of opera."
"Bartlett Sher’s expert staging, designed by Michael Yeargan and Catherine Zuber, with video projections by 59 Productions, has the seamlessness of film."
"The chorus basked in the glimmer of laptop screens as projections by the team 59 Productions superimposed swirling visual representations of the Web onto the otherwise stark set….Even as it presents the most horrifying extremes to which people can use the Internet, “Two Boys” suggests that there might be logic, and even beauty, behind the chaos of the online world."
"Like the sinister, faceless cousins of Peter Grimes' Borough, the chorus are central to Muhly's drama - a multiplicity of voices, a web of aleatory polyphony that seethes and pulses with the life of the internet. Framed in the aura of glowing laptop screens it is their music that cocoons the drama, embracing and dissolving it into their digital Babel. Their music is staged by the exquisite animations and projections of 59 Productions, which fill the extremes of the Coliseum stage space with fluid worlds of codeless patterns."