Nico Muhly's Opera Shows Promise But Still Needs Work

To judge by some of the opening night reviews, Nico Muhly's first opera, Two Boys, premiered on June 24 at the London Coliseum, will be London's hot ticket for its entire run.

The plot concerns two boys joined by an online chat-room, and the way their lives are entwined and move inexorably towards a tragic conclusion. The whole work is imbued with a sense of the half-life existence that keeps so many young eyes glued to their screens.

The opera gets off to weak start, with meandering arpeggios on a road to nowhere. Once into it, Muhly reveals a sure mastery of mesmeric, other-worldly material. There is more to creating a dramatic stage work than writing pretty music, however, and in a piece that is predominantly quiet and slow, it is the lack of narrative shaping that finally lets it down.


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