The Wunderkind Composer Finds Inspiration in Digital Intrigue for His New Opera
You're an incredibly internet savvy composer. What’s the online attraction?
It's a very natural extension of what I do. It's about a desire for engagement. You can often have a more meaningful relationship online than offline. Two Boys touches on this. The work contains an example of how the internet can be dangerous. But it also contains moments of extreme beauty and connection.
Have you had any online relationships?
Not romantic ones, but I have had friendships that have been conducted exclusively online. One of my best friends, my closet confidante, is someone I've only met in person four times over six years, not for reasons of distance but just because in person it was awkward.
A few weeks back a lesbian Syrian blogger known as Amina was outed as a fraud. Your take?
So great. "Gay Girl in Damascus," I lived for that blog.
Did you read it?
Are you crazy? It's all I read! What is so beautiful about that guy [American Tom MacMaster, the real author] is, he's a composer. He managed to write for an "instrument" he doesn't play. That's exactly what I have to do every day. I see online deceit as one of the most admirable acts of composition.
You’ve just released a new record, Seeing is Believing. How would you characterize it?
The main piece, “Seeing is Believing,” requires a lot of virtuosity and has a lot of thought behind it. It's a shimmery little complicated cocktail dress of a thing!
Let's play matchmaker. What contemporary classical music would you suggest for a Black Sabbath fan?
Definitely anything by my Icelandic-Australian friend Ben Frost.
What about Morrissey?
I'm not actually sure I know the way across for Morrissey. For me, and people of my generation, there is no analogue to Morrissey.
Creatively you seem to straddle high and low culture with ease. Does that translate to other parts of your life?
That's how I dress. Right now I'm wearing 17 different Rick Owens T-shirts that are all in tatters that cost as much as my apartment.
Now that you've done an opera, you've covered every form of music. What's next?
To do them all again, but better.
ENO’s Two boys opens at The London Coliseum tonight and runs to July 8.
Nico Muhly photo by Joss McKinley, 2011