Is mad cow disease a tragedy of operatic scale? Not yet, but it is of mini-operatic scale. “The Brain Food Opera,”a mini-opera in 3 acts, was performed at the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. The entire libretto is here, and you can hear the perfomance by listening to NPR Science Friday’s broadcast of the ceremony, which is archived here.
The third (and concluding) act of the mini-opera is sung to the tune of “Libiamo” from Verdi’s “La Traviata.” This is how it begins:
HE: It’s clear —
Fish and brains are not merely a fad.
And if only the two of us weren’t so intelligent,
My dear, Then by now I would surely be mad
As a hatter and you would be madder than a cow.
SHE: The public seems to be wanting brains and fish.
They always ask for the latest diet.
And they don’t stop, not until they buy it.
Of course they must try it right away.
BOTH: Our dream has come true,
Both for me and for you.
We could not bear it
If we don’t share it with the world.
SHE: I know
Now, my darling, it’s you I adore!
And your I.Q.
There’s no one like you
In all the world today.
Minor side effects we can ignore —
Like conniptions and heebie-jeebies and maybe death.