LISTEN: Here Is a Song About the Twitter Feud Between Paul Krugman and the President of Estonia
There is a new European musical production, sung and performed in soaring operatic style, that tells the true story of the June internet war between Paul Krugman, the noted Keynesian economist, and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia. The first shot rang out when Krugman published a blog post titled "Estonian Rhapsody" criticizing the Baltic state's austerity measures. Later that day, Ilves, a national figurehead who commands no real executive power, retaliated by opening up a salvo of indignant and sometimes vulgar tweets, decrying Krugman as ignorant, "smug, overbearing & patronizing."
Naturally, someone would have to see this and think of it as musical-theater gold: "I couldn't avoid the tweets," Scott Diel, an Estonia-based American writer and lyricist for the show, tells me. "They just sort of recommended themselves."
This is not the Onion. It's the true story behind an original production that debuted Sunday night to a packed house at the historic House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads in Tallinn, Estonia, as part of the Estonian Music Days festival. A subsequent performance is in the works for the Estonia business conference Pärnu Konverentsid in the fall, and for a performance by Sinfonietta Riga in Latvia on October 18. The piece, titled Nostra Culpa, which means "our fault" in Latin (the expression was used in one of Ilves' angry and sarcastic tweets), isn't satirical, does not stake out a partisan position, and is not particularly critical of either Krugman or Ilves.