From Estonian Rhapsody to Estonian Opera

Estonian Rhapsody was the title of Paul Krugman’s 2011 blog post which argued that Estonia’s austerity program and rapid recovery wasn’t all it had been cracked up to be. The post led to a surprisingly nasty series of tweets from none other than Toomas Ilves, the President of Estonia. Krugman’s arguments against austerity and Illves response have now been turned into a real rhapsody, well, an opera to be precise. As noted on Fareed Zakarias’s GPS Blog:

The “cantata” premiered this week before a live audience in Tallinn and then was shown – all 18 minutes of it – on Estonian state television.  The first act lays out the Krugman argument – even more sparingly than Krugman laid it out himself.  Then the real drama begins in the second act with Ilves’ stinging response.

Why opera?  Why song?  Well, singing is in Estonians’ blood and has helped write their history. After all, the nation’s unraveling from the Soviet Union is known as the Singing Revolution. The Soviets had banned Estonia’s national songs and in the late 1980’s Estonians began to gather in ever increasing numbers to sing those songs as a sign of protest.  By 1988, hundreds of thousands of people were gathering in a country of little more than a million. In November of that year, Estonia declared its sovereignty; three years later, it declared full independence.


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