Music markets in everything (the austerity opera)

by on January 17, 2013 at 10:12 am in Music | Permalink

A Twitter feud in June between the Estonian president and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman who questioned the impact of Estonia’s austerity measures, is being turned into an opera, US composer Eugene Birman told AFP on Wednesday.

“Our short opera will be first performed by Iris Oja and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra conducted by Risto Joost during Tallinn Music Week on April 7,” Birman, who moved from Riga to the US at age of six, told AFP.

The piece, in two movements, uses two voices, those of Krugman and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, reflecting their exchanges on the Twitter social network.

“‘Nostra Culpa’ (Our Fault) is a short 16 minutes operatic piece which takes up the age-old economic disagreement of austerity vs. stimulus,” journalist Scott Diel, who wrote the opera’s libretto, told AFP.

Here is more and for the pointer I thank Peter Metrinko.  Major or minor key?  Here is some Eugene Birman music.  Here is Scott Diel, author of the libretto.

1 Orange14 January 17, 2013 at 10:31 am

“Major or minor key?” – Doubtful since only Schoenbergian 12 tone is worthy of this particular libretto.

2 Peter N January 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I think the participants should be in relatively dissonant just temperments – tritone offset?

3 Brian January 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Not major or minor, but rather perhaps a modern day Well Tempered Clavier. Prior, Austrians and Libertarians who sympathize with how the world could be if perfect would be more likened to a Pythagorean tuning of the instruments. Keynesians, who like to do the fine tuning themselves, gravitate toward meantone temperament giving them maximum flexibility with how they adjust intervals, the fine tuning of the economy. Of course, this leads at least one really bad out of tune “wolf” fifth somewhere – a Krugman ad hominem. Maybe this is a blending of the worlds. Bach was able to spread the imperfection out over all the keys relatively evenly. Taken one step further, today we have equal temperament – a musical compromise between perfection and key playable flexibility, leaving us all with a slightly duller ear to the perfection of just 5ths. Instead the only just interval now is the octave, which would be the one major economic principle that these two agree on and could rest a compromise on?

4 Benny Lava January 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm


5 prior_approval January 17, 2013 at 10:50 am

Will they perform it with helicopters?

It isn’t as if they are unknown in the operatic world, after all –

6 Nick_L January 17, 2013 at 11:30 am

I look forward to reading the reviews by the opera critics, and the economists.

On the one hand..

7 db January 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

If no one dies at the end of an opera it’s hardly worth seeing!

8 tmc January 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Does K’s reputation count?

9 db January 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

One can only hope! Along with his Keynesian fantasies.

10 Ricardo January 18, 2013 at 7:47 am

K’s reputation? His blog post is rather tame and just points out Estonia hadn’t yet returned to its peak GDP of five years ago:

The responses from the head of state of Estonia were:

8:57 p.m. Let’s write about something we know nothing about & be smug, overbearing & patronizing: after all, they’re just wogs
9:06 p.m. Guess a Nobel in trade means you can pontificate on fiscal matters & declare my country a “wasteland.” Must be a Princeton vs Columbia thing
9:15 p.m. But yes, what do we know? We’re just dumb & silly East Europeans. Unenlightened. Someday we too will understand. Nostra culpa.
9:32 p.m. Let’s sh*t on East Europeans: their English is bad, won’t respond & actually do what they’ve agreed to & reelect govts that are responsible.
10:10 p.m. Chill. Just because my country’s policy runs against the Received Wisdom & I object doesn’t mean y’all gotta follow me.

Krugman no doubt writes in a provocative style but he really has a way of bringing out all sorts of venom and resentment. I’m just surprised it’s a head of state who is acting like a 16-year-old who just got turned down for a date. Whatever happened to the dignity of the office? All the tailored suits in the world can’t make up for this remarkable lack of class.

11 tmc January 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Krugman typically leads wtih all sorts of venom and resentment. Others just get pulled down to his level. My first comment was about his treatment of ‘austerity’ in general, which he handled very poorly.

12 Leo Bloom January 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

…[U]nder the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit.

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