Back in my bright college days, I was a music major. I hung out on the quad with other wannabe musicians on warm sunny days where we planned projects which would make us famous. Symphonies. Great achievements as conductors and composers though my class never produced anyone huge. Medium is as good as we got.
My great project was going to be musical comedy based on the myth of Leda and the Swan.
In the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces — or rapes — Leda. I vote for seduction since I have a lot of trouble visualizing being rape by a swan.
Zeus or not, swans are slow and clumsy on land, unlikely to successfully attack anyone or anything. Being heavy-bodied, they have trouble getting airborne. Without hands or arms, rape seems unlikely.
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 gives birth to Castor and Clytemnestra — the offspring of her human husband Tyndareus, King of Sparta.
Leda is able to convince her parents and husband that her extraneous pregnancy is not the result of a lover or promiscuity. “No! Honest to gods, really, no kidding, Mom, Dad, Tyndy … it was Zeus! Not some guy. He was a swan! Really.” Right.
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.
I could imagine another hilarious show-stopping moment. The eggs. Her Zeus children are born as eggs. Who sat on the eggs? Did they build a nest on her throne? Did she get her ladies-in-waiting to sit on them while she did her Queen business?
Leda: The swan didn’t fool me. I knew it was Zeus. You all know how much I love birds and feathers, right? I mean … what girl could resist such a gorgeous bird? No kidding. I wouldn’t lie to you.
Tyndareus, King of Sparta: I want to believe you, but I’m having some problems.
Leda: Trust me, dear. It was Zeus. As a swan. You know how tricky he is.
The All-Important Dream Ballet
In a brilliantly choreographed dream sequence, Leda relives the heady romance of the seduction. Some of the technical aspects of the experience make interesting mental meanderings. How, exactly, did … well … ? It will make a heck of a scene.
How Many Curtain Calls?
I’m telling you — the audience will be on its collective feet! I can hear the applause already. I see the royalties rolling in.
I’m a bit long in the tooth now for to write a musical comedy, but I freely offer this incredible concept to anyone who wants to flush it out. It might launch more than one career.