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Sure enough, in a reedy 13-year-old named Jake goes online and populates his world with stock figures out of bad TV: a secret agent, a thuggish groundskeeper, a privileged coquette. The impressive boy soprano Andrew Pulver lends Jake his frail, fresh voice, then lets other, adult cast members take over and utter what he types.

Yet the opera never enjoys the sense of liberation that a costume can grant: It feels hobbled by reticence.

That all sounded great ahead of the Met’s premiere (the world premiere took place two years ago at the English National Opera).

But in practice, the premise never quite jells into a plot, and whenever Muhly ventures into opera’s more extreme emotional territory — anguish, menace, pain, terror, violence — he turns back before he’s gone very far.

Their target: a sex-ed book published by Mc Graw Hill.

It offers the traditional advice and awkward diagrams plus some considerably more modern tips: a how-to for asking partners if they’ve been tested for STDs, a debate on legalizing prostitution.

grade curriculum for the five district high schools, arguing it was inappropriate for their 13 and 14-year olds.

They hired a local lawyer and put together a petition with more than 2500 signatures.

Appleby is a marvel: an intelligent young singer equipped with the elegance and expressivity of an old pro, impersonating a lost soul of a kid. Muhly gives him outbursts and answers, reserving the more expansive soliloquies for Detective Sergeant Strawson, who is investigating Jake’s stabbing, and who leads the audience, Virgil-like, into the mystifying hell of cyberspace.

She is a frumpy, frazzled, and reluctant investigator who, if the Met were the BBC, would be played by Helen Mirren or Brenda Blethyn but instead is sung by the terrific Alice Coote.

the new opera by composer Nico Muhly and librettist Craig Lucas, when a pair of teenagers lock eyes during a church service, their ardor and confusion rubbing against the grown-up piety of their surroundings.

The boys, who spend their lives on laptops, know each other only by their chat room handles, but their real-life encounter hardly registers in the score.

The score works best as a succession of atmospheres, like cues in a movie soundtrack that lend vividness to an empty room or romance to a bland exchange.