The Corner

Austerity: The Opera

Two characters, 140 characters, economics, Estonia and a mezzosoprano. I cannot wait.

The WSJ reports:

Last year’s public spat between Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and economist Paul Krugman will be transformed into a short operatic work based on the disagreement on fiscal issues between the two men.

In a blog in June 2012, Mr. Krugman questioned the assertion Estonia was booming and described the country as “a poster child for austerity defenders,” which hadn’t fully recovered from the global financial crisis. The post got a fierce response from Mr. Ilves, who posted angrily on Twitter in defense of Estonia, which enjoyed a budget surplus.

Among others, he said: “Let’s write about something we know nothing about & be smug, overbearing & patronizing.” One tweet included a profanity to say people could get away with insulting “East Europeans,” whose “English is bad” and who “won’t respond and actually do what they’ve agreed to and reelect governments that are responsible.”

Composer Eugene Birman and journalist Scott Diel found inspiration in the quarrel. The operating work they’re creating will be titled “Nostra Culpa,” Latin for “Our fault”, which Mr. Ilves used in an ironic admission to being one of “dumb and silly East Europeans.”

“Scott took various parts of the president’s tweets and we tried to create almost a refrain for the respective public figures. For Krugman, for example, it’s simply ‘Stimulate!’, while for Ilves, it’s ‘Nostra culpa’,” Mr. Birman said.

The 15-minute “financial opera” has two movements and will be performed by Estonian mezzosoprano Iris Oja…

I wrote about this debate for NRODT here (cue refrain: “subscribe!”)


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