Wonderfully amorphous and yet effortlessly focused
ENO London Coliseum, June 2011
New York Met Opera, October 2013
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.
‘geometry explodes like fireworks over a veiled chorus’
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.
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.
Projection and Animation
The Metropolitan Opera
The English National Opera