HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT - FROM THE DUCKS BILL

I have long admired Kees Moliker's ground breaking paper on homosexual necrophilia in the mallard. Last summer, under the influence of too many espressos in the Welcome Trust cafe with Marc Abrahams I put forward the suggestion that Kees' Magnum Opus would make a fine mini opera. At which point Marc sprayed his coffee across the table and implored me to go home asap and begin work. 8 months later I did (not go home, I mean start work) and beginning 1st Jan 2014 I removed my composing pen from it's warm dark housing, wiped it clean and got down to it. By the beginning of Feb it was all but finished.

I have set it for solo high voice, in this performance played by Sarah Redmond (in the role of Kees). The gender difference need not be an issue as Kees is an elegant and willowy specimen, much like Sarah. The instrumentation is for clarinet quintet (which for those who don't know is string quartet plus a clarinet.) The group is The Edge Ensemble with Shaun Thompson on clarinet. We have a vocal chorus punctuating the section beginning 'Rather startled, I watched.....' which is the final vivace section of a pseudo Mozartian aria.

Two male singers will also be portraying the mallard ducks in question. Through the medium of contemporary dance, a tasteful re-enactment of the behaviour, mixing flowing, poetic body movements and extreme sexual violence. Tricky, but a noble endeavour I think. Last but by no means least is the role of the author himself - Kees Moeliker has assured me he is a virtuoso at playing the Duck Call. This rarely used orchestral instrument is the heart of the whole work and serves to comment sardonically on the state of western civilisation today. Although Kees does not read a note of music he seems extremely confident in his role. As he put it, "Once I've discovered which end of the thing I blow through." What can

go wrong?

Dan Gillingwater Feb 2014

 

 

 

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