Premiere — Homosexual necrophiliac duck opera, with scientist, at King’s Cross

You are invited to the grand public premier of Kees Moeliker (scientist, discoverer of the actual duck) and Dan Gillingwater (composer)’s Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera. Based on Kees Moeliker’s 2003 Ig Nobel Prize-winning study “The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard“.

The performances will take place on 8th and 9th August 2015 at Kings Place, London, as part of the Tete a Tete Opera Festival. Here’s how to get TICKETS.

Starring Sarah Redmond as Kees Moeliker, with a sung chorus and contemporary dancers portraying the ducks in question, accompanied by the Edge Ensemble and introducing Kees Moeliker (in person) playing the duck call.

Here’s a preview, in The Times. Here’s a preview on Dutch radio RTV.


And here’s a bit of opera history: The opera had a test run last year — a single, spectacular performance at Imperial College London, as part of the 2014 Ig Nobel Tour of the UK. The composer has drawn on the lessons learned that night, tweaked the duck, and cooked up an even more splendiferous offering for this grand public premiere.

What, exactly, is homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck, and how did it all come to this? Kees Moeliker answered those questions in his notorious TED Talk:

UPDATE [August 10, 2015]: Review of the opera, published on Planet Hugill:

Contemporary opera is alive and well and living in King’s Cross

I caught up with Tête à Tête:The Opera Festival over the weekend sampling just a few events from the huge range on offer at Kings Place, showing that the art of contemporary opera seems to be alive and well as people push the genre in a variety of striking directions….

Andrew Walker, Guy Woolf in Dan Gillingwater's The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera

Andrew Walker, Guy Woolf in Dan Gillingwater’s
The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera

The final main stage piece was in some ways the most conventional, but still in its own way innovative and certainly the funniest. Dan Gillingwater’s The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera sets a paper which was written by Kees Moeliker who is curator of the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam. The paper covers an incident he witness at the museum when a male mallard duck flew into the museum’s glass wall and died, and was then promptly raped by one of its fellows. Moeliker himself introduced the event, setting the scene and he makes a very good straight man (he also played in the instrumental ensemble, playing the duck call). For the opera proper, Sarah Redmond played the scientist (and directed) with Alice Redmond as her assistant. That the two are sisters and have a cabaret act too seemed to infuse the performance and the whole thing was a play on the whole genre of opera, its stylised formality, the soprano’s Big Frock which was then improbably covered with a lab coat. As Sara Redmond sang Dan Gillingwater’s dramatic setting of the paper, the events were acted out with the help of Andrew Walker as the duck and Guy Woolf as the dead duck with choreography by Cristian Valle. Dan Gillinwater’s music, played by the Edge Ensemble (clarinet quintet), was lyrically and dramatic, making sympathetic and highly effective accompaniment to the text as well as providing the occasional witty comment. Sarah Redmond gave a bravura performance, and my only complaint was that we could not always hear her words clearly. But the result was very funny and very thought provoking (Kees Moeliker’s original paper won an Ig Nobel award which aims to reward work which is funny but makes people think about science).

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