For more than 50 years, I have been nurturing this idea and I have to thank you for giving me an opportunity to tell the world.
Back in my bright college days, I was for the first 2 years, a music major. When my fellow wannabe musicians hung out on the quad on warm sunny days, we would plan projects that were going to make us famous. Symphonies were planned. Great achievements as conductors and composers were spun as glorious dreams, although I don’t know that my class actually produced anyone who really hit the big time. Medium time seems to be as good as we got.
But my dream, my great project, was a full musical comedy based on the story of Leda and the Swan. I thought Broadway because in those days, there were no computer generated graphics to make the impossible real on-screen. Now, I think perhaps Hollywood would be the correct venue for this masterpiece.
In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces, or rapes Leda. Which is never made entirely clear, but I vote for seduction since I have a lot of trouble visualizing rape by a swan. I mean, even as Zeus … swans are not agile except on water. They have trouble with take offs being rather heavy-bodied. Moreover, the lack of hands and arms seems to make rape a rather difficult to manage business. Regardless, Leda becomes pregnant from the experience. She bears Helen and Polydeuces, both children of Zeus. Simultaneously (and I’d like to know how she managed this), she also gives birth to Castor and Clytemnestra who are the offspring of her human husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta.
In the myth, Leda is able to convince her parents and husband that despite all logic or reason, her extraneous pregnancy was not the result of a lover or promiscuous sexual behavior. No, no! Honest to gods (we are in a polytheistic world, remember), really, no kidding, it was Zeus who did it. Not merely was it Zeus, not some guy, but he was in the form of a swan!
I figured there were a couple of potential show-stopping moments with high comedic potential embedded in this.
The first … and perhaps my favorite scene … would have to be the first act closer. In this highly emotional musical extravaganza, Leda pours out her distress in a heart-rending lyric soprano rich with passion. In it, she explains that it really truly was Zeus.
Leda: Even in the form of a swan, I knew it was Zeus. And you all know how much I love birds and feathers, right? I mean … what girl could resist such a gorgeous bird who is, after all, the top God in the Pantheon? No kidding. I wouldn’t lie to you.
Tyndareus, King of Sparta: I want to believe you, but I’m having a few problems with this.
Leda: Trust me, dear. It was Zeus. As a swan. You know how clever he can be.
Later, we all get to see the central event, Leda’s experience. In the carefully choreographed dream sequence, Leda relives the heady romance of the seduction. I’m assuming it was seduction rather than rape. I mean, how big was that swan anyhow? And, uh, some of the technical aspects of the experience make for interesting mental meanderings. How, exactly, did … well … this is a G-rated site, so I won’t get too specific. Suffice to say it would make one heck of a scene on stage. Even better, now that CGI has come of age, with some well done special effects?
Wow, this could have the audience on its feet! I can hear the applause from here. I see the royalties rolling in. I ought to add that depending on which version of the story you read, Leda either gave birth to babies … or eggs.
Eggs open up a whole new set of possibilities. If she birthed eggs, did she have to sit on them until they hatched? As Queen of Sparta, could she order her court attendants sit on the eggs in her place while she performed her royal duties? Did she build a nest? In the palace? Did the issue of this union feel a lifelong need to dive into lakes and ponds? Were they born knowing how to swim?
Inquiring minds want to know! Details, details. Please?
I’m a bit long in the tooth now for writing a full musical comedy, but I freely offer this incredible concept to anyone who feels inclined to flush it out. I think it might just launch more than one career. You think?
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- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 11 – Remake! (rarasaur.wordpress.com)
- Leda and the Swan (davidallsopclassics.wordpress.com)
- Leda and the swan….. (womgdesigns.wordpress.com)
- Leda and The Swan (thesparkystarky.wordpress.com)
- W. B. Yeats – ‘Leda and the Swan’ (emilygostage.wordpress.com)
- Ancient Greek (vancecastiell.wordpress.com)