Estonian Twitter tirade caused by Paul Krugman becomes an 'opera'

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman caused an angry Twitter tirade last year from Estonia's president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, concerning the efficacy of the country's economic reforms.

Now the electronic spat has been turned into a 16-minute vocal piece that will debut in April in a performance by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra in Estonia. The piece is by Eugene Birman, a young Latvian-born composer.

Birman recently wrote on his website that he disputes the use of the term "opera" by some media outlets to describe the new work. "Nostra Culpa" has two movements and will feature two voices representing Krugman and Ilves, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

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The piece is scheduled to debut April 7 at the Estonian Music Days festival in the capital city of Tallinn.

Krugman, who is a New York Times columnist and a professor at Princeton University, won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2008.  The June spat with the Estonian president concerned austerity measures that the government had taken and which Krugman believed to be less than effective.

Krugman wrote in a blog post on the New York Times site that Estonia's situation was "better than no recovery at all, obviously — but this is what passes for economic triumph?"

An apparently indignant Ilves took to Twitter to say that Krugman was "smug & snide gloating" at his country's expense. 

The title of Birman's musical adaptation comes from another tweet written by the Estonian president: "But yes, what do we know? We're just dumb & silly East Europeans. Unenlightened. Someday we too will understand. Nostra culpa."


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