Cher Public

  • NPW-Paris: Frogs in bogs? Platée is one of my favourite operas of all. 5:39 PM
  • Camille: Oh, it was DU-—Satisfied—than x a LOT— as you saved me the hassle and bother in a busy, 90+ degree day of stressing out to go to... 4:39 PM
  • Camille: Bill, thanks, but I was really sort of joking, as people do all sort of things these days after the first act—chiefly, I’ve... 4:34 PM
  • Camille: No, it was relief because it was good! And with this opera, one gets used to hearing a lot of frogs barking in the bogs, so it IS... 4:27 PM
  • Camille: It reminded, somewhat, of the Callas Kundry for what was her ease and legato. All the usual spots where they Schrei und Try Again... 4:24 PM
  • la vociaccia: if you can’t sing it well, then you can’t sing well, period. No disagreements from me there. But a lot of people seem to be... 4:17 PM
  • Camille: I was keenly anticipating this “Heart” ;, but after having read the program only just last evening, (thank you to... 4:13 PM
  • grimoaldo: The review actually explains why, the “upper part of her voice was often so edgy that the aria became truly... 3:44 PM

Desk set

“Two Boys demonstrates that Mr. Muhly is capable of very great things indeed, offering extended glimpses of the kind of masterpiece he just missed writing here, and, more happily, of the kind of masterpiece I feel confident he will write in the future.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)


  • 1
    operaassport says:

    JJ shows,

  • 2
    operaassport says:

    JJ shows, once again, when it comes to criticism he is a genius. This couldn’t be more spot on. Brava/o!

  • 3
    Camille says:

    Hey, this review I just now posted on a week old thread where it will, doubtless, be buried, so since the Two Boys are back up on top I’ll re-post it again here.

    From the New York ReviewBLOG:

  • 4
    Salome Where She Danced says:

    Two Boys libretto = Prime Suspect + The Dying Gaul (except with boys) + Turn of the Screw.

    Two Boys music = Glass + Britten + more Glass.

    (I can’t wait to see the perfectly marvellous Paul Appleby in a better work).

  • 5
    Sempre liberal says:

    I listened to opening night livestream and had a hard time concentrating. I felt that I could be true to the story if I multitasked on my computer, so I spent time with the ruffians in La casa della Cieca.

    Has it been a successful run? I’ve read some good critical commentary, but those I know who saw it found it to be a long evening. Do you think it will be done again?

    • 5.1
      Camille says:

      Ruffiani? I beg your pardon, Sir/Madam!!!!

      • 5.1.1
        Sempre liberal says:

        In addition to some random hookups, I am sure that la casa della cieca has contributed to the hatching of an internet murder plot or two…

      • 5.1.2
        Rory Williams says:

        OMG, I LOVE the Ruffians of Parterre! I feel scarier already by association. And, hey, I heard Camille carries a knife. Just sayin’.

          Camille says:

          yeah, man, I carry my stiletto in my stilettos, and a paring knife in my beehive!

          Hallowe’en is coming!!! wooooo hoooooooooo!

          • Rory Williams says:

            I am a ruffian at ur & Manou’s service always & forever, Chere Camille. Yr Li’l Ruffian, Rory

            • Camille says:

              Dearest Lad—
              One may be true as a troubadour but to ONE Lady Love alone,
              and your heart has already pledged its troth. Be true to it!

              If, however, you would like to go motorcycle drag racin’ sometime, give me a holler!!!

            • Rory Williams says:

              U r right, back to the gondola for me. Gonna earn that palazzo for Her Nibs (but, damn, these tourists r a pain!)

            • grimoaldo says:

              The palazzo in Venice that manou’s ancestor was given as a wedding present (yes, really), and that Rory has dedicated to restoring to her:

            • Rory Williams says:


            • oedipe says:

              Including all the art works in it, since nowadays Ca’ Rezzonico houses the Venice Museum of the 18th century.


            • grimoaldo says:

              Yes oedipe that’s how I know about it, in a chat one time someone said they were going to Venice and I said “try to go and see the exhibits at the Ca Rezzonico, it’s really worth seeing” and manou said “Oh yes, my ancestor was given that house as a wedding present”. I was quite stunned.

            • manou says:

              This is a perfectly true story -- and to think I only got a car as a wedding present….

  • 6
    Sempre liberal says:

    Better Muhly should have set the Amazon ads to music…

  • 7
    -Ed. says:

    A fine piece of writing, JJ.
    I neither saw nor listened to Two Boys, but I come away from your review thinking the librettist might have benefitted from a lens change. Using a reducing glass to gain distance and perspective on the subject matter, instead of relying quite so much on a magnifying glass might have helped. I’m eager to hear the choral music you described.

  • 8
    m. croche says:

    Not surprised to see Milhaud’s opera-minute regarded here as “musically slight”. I think he’s a wonderful composer and craftsman, one who (at least through the late forties) deftly blended musical sophistication and earthiness. But we once again live in an age where the high arts aspire to monumentality. Milhaud’s concise works from the twenties puncture the pretensions of his more garrulous predecessors and successors, which is one reason why they continue to arouse nervous rejection today. In other realms of classical music, 8 minutes is more than enough time to tell a story -- and since Webern and Kurtag, we have become accustomed to perceiving more in much, much less.

    • 8.1
      manou says:

      Opera-minute or minute opera? Here is a minute short story:

      “For we are like tree trunks in the snow. In appearance they lie sleekly and a little push should be enough to set them rolling. No, it can’t be done, for they are firmly wedded to the ground. But see, even that is only appearance.” Franz Kafka

      And as I recall there are several very very short stories in Chinese classic literature.

      Brevity is the soul of wit.

      • 8.1.1
        manou says:

        Ooooh -- just found another one:

        « Brevity is a great charm of eloquence. » Cicero

          m. croche says:

          While we’re on the subject, I suppose it’s time to once again trot out one of the few available recordings of a work by Yuri Khanon. Musically-literate Parterrians will not be surprised to learn that the composer of the “Five Littlest Orgasms” is quite an expert on Erik Satie.

          Mr. Khanon is also an opera composer. Among other works, he has “recomposed” both Norma and La Forza del Destino.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            I adore these beyond measure, Croche.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Khanon has now risen to the ranks of “favorite composers” in my book.

            This concerto (opera?) is also a killer, and doesn’t take all evening either.

          semira mide says:

          « Brevity is a great charm of eloquence. » Cicero

          Wish Cicero had practiced what he preached. Latin translations were an endurance test in school.

      • 8.1.2
        perfidia says:

        How’s this manou?

        “When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.”
        Augusto Monterroso

          manou says:

          Perfidia -- this is very good indeed. I had not heard of Augusto Monterroso before and will seek out more of his stories.

      • 8.1.3
          manou says:

          OK -- this one could be my all-time favourite. Luis Buñuel must have been aware of it.

  • 9
    arepo says:

    To compare Britten’s music with Glass seems rather strange to me.
    I do hear examples of Britten and even Menotti in his music however.
    I found the Sirius listening to be intriguing to the extent that I am sorry to have missed it live and hope that it will get another chance so that I can plan a bit more carefully. It deserves another go-around from what I heard.
    I recognize that my opinion seems to be in the minority but I believe Muhly has talent and that this is just the beginning for him — and a fine beginning at that.

    • 9.1
      Sempre liberal says:

      I don’t dispute Muhly’s talent as a composer. I’ve heard a number of choral works which are truly magical. He is particularly wonderful at weaving thin and thick textures in a way that connotes vastness or density. He knows the choral voice inside and out.

      I cannot comment about the opera as a whole, because I did not go, but what I did hear on Sirius sounded largely banal (especially the detective scenes and much of the dialogue, which someone in La Casa called “Lloyd Webber-ish”). The choral segments were somewhat more interesting, but the opera overall felt long. The staging, as I read, would have certainly made it more tolerable.

      I’ve heard others say (will this be Cieca’s next canard post?) that Muhly is great with the short form, but the charm wears off in longer forms.

      Glad he had this chance with the MET. If he decides to keep opera in his rep, I’m curious enough to listen.

      • 9.1.1
        Henry Holland says:

        He obviously has talent writing choral music but I’ve heard things like the brief ballet score he wrote for Millipied’s “Los Angeles” Dance Project called Moving Parts that is just there, it doesn’t go anywhere in particular. His pop-oriented albums (Mothertongue and Speaks Volumes) are terrible, IMO, as are the attempts at improv that I’ve heard. Look at his works list:

        He’s written an awful lot of music in 12 years, I get a feeling of “assembly line” with it sometimes.

  • 10
    operaassport says:

    Brevity is overrated.

  • 11
    Tory Adore says:

    Yes tl;dr when looking at Camille’s Mary garden- but damned if I didn’t read the whole post as somehow I was transported to the Unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters. So much sharing here, so many wonderful links….you lift me out of my provincial little hamlet and propel me to the stars.

  • 12
    Gualtier M says:

    Question: did Muhly compose “Dark Sisters” after “Two Boys”? Because all around that is a better opera.

  • 13
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    The new DOB/La Scala virtual cyber effects in the new Tsar’s Bride production make Two Boys look like a green cathode ray tube and primitive BBS system. Try to find it on the internet -- it’s out there.

  • 14
    stignanispawn says:

    I saw “Two Boys” last night. I thought Paul Appleby and Alice Coote were great, and that some of the choral music was terrific, but I didn’t feel that there was a whole lot of opera there. It reminded me of the old Broadway adage about coming out of a musical “humming the scenery” or, in this case, the technology. Two Boys is another of those succes d’estime operas. I don’t think that we’ll be seeing it in future Met seasons.