Monday, 25 May 2015

The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera: Rather Startled, I Watched

When, one summer’s afternoon in 1995, Kees Moeliker heard a bang on the window of his office at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum, he could never have anticipated this.

Twenty years later the events that followed, which became the subject of a legendary scientific paper, have made the transition from academic journal to stage: London is set to witness the public premiere of The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera.

A few minutes before the bang, that fateful day in Holland, a mallard duck had been feeling romantic. Ducks have a wooing technique that could charitably be described as persistent.

Biologists have another term: they call it “rape flights”. Chasing their quarry until it is completely exhausted, the mallards are then able – having proven their stamina – to win the heart of their amore.

In this case, the amore was another male mallard, and his luck was only going to get worse: flying into the office window, he was killed instantly. Luckily for the world, behind that window was Dr Moeliker, a zoology academic, who went down to investigate.

“Rather startled, I watched,” he wrote in the resultant academic paper, describing how the duck, “mounted the corpse and started to copulate”.

“The necrophilic mallard only reluctantly left his ‘mate’: when I had approached him to about five metres, he did not fly away but simply walked off a few metres, weakly uttering series of two-note ‘raeb-raeb’ calls…To the best of my knowledge, this case is the first described case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.”

The paper has proved a sensation and now, at the King’s Place in London in August, it will be set to music – with the words, “Rather startled, I watched” forming the aria.

“It was a beautifully written paper, it has been crying out to be set to music,” said Dan Gillingwater, the composer, of his motivation. “It’s high art; I’ve got a clarinet quintet playing, and it sounds a bit like Handel.”

He was particularly proud of the two contemporary dancers he has “portraying the act itself” .

“I’ve got a great dancer who plays the murdering shagger. He does this beautiful solo dance of despair when the poor creature dies, and then he leaps on and does the dirty.”

The opera will be performed on August 8 and 9 but Gillingwater, a primary school teacher, hopes to take it into schools, perhaps along with other arguably more serious scientific papers set to music.

“I realise we probably can’t get homosexual necrophilia into primary schools, but we might be able to get it into secondary schools,” he said, optimistically.

No comments:

Post a Comment