STRUNK: I’m in a pickle! I’ve got a dangling participle!
WHITE: Don’t be fickle! Here’s a nickel!
STRUNK & WHITE: Buy our book!
Sorry about that.
Although lyrics like "Revise and rewrite" and "Do not use
a hyphen between two words that can better be written as one word" suggest
the didactic thrust of "Schoolhouse Rock," Muhly’s work is more
in the minimalist-modernist mold of Philip Glass and Steve Reich but with
an absurdist dash of Spike Jones…Their brief mandated the making of sounds
incorporating duck calls, meat grinders, bells, Slinkys, mallets, pillows,
eggbeaters, megaphones, "chattering" cups and saucers, a typewriter
and the slamming closed of a large book.
You can hear a discussion of the opera on this
episode of the Newsweek Arts Extra podcast.