"Lament Del Cockroach"-- theLibretto

A mini-operetta for Nobel Laureates and mezzo-sopranos

by Marc Abrahams and Don Kater

Here is the complete libretto for "Lament Del Cockroach."
The world premiere and only perfomance took place at the Sixth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony,
at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, on October 3, 1996.

For photos, etc., see the Jan/Feb 1996 issue of Annals of Improbable Research.


Opera Director: Margot McLaughlin
Opera Producers: Sip Siperstein & Marc Abrahams
Lyrics: Marc Abrahams and Don Kater
Music: Mozart, Bizet, Wagner & Handel
Arrangement: Margot McLaughlin & Greg Neal

Meteorite design and construction: Alan Symonds & Eric Workman
Meteorite propulsion: Majordomo Gary Dryfoos & Minordomo James Mahoney
Paper micrometeorite construction and propulsion: The balcony audience

Thelma, a cockroach: Margot McLaughlin
Louise, a cockroach: Deb Kreuze
Insects: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach & William Lipscomb
Singing Plants: Caroline Taylor, Anna Sharma, Lisa Jahnig
Narrator: Lisa Mullins
Pianist: Greg Neal



(music adapted from Mozart's "Queen of the Night" from "The Magic Flute")

Our opera takes place in the future. Various environmental disasters have caused most species to disappear. Now something mysterious has appeared in the sky. Look up there at the balcony--[points at the balcony] and you'll see it. The object is heading toward the earth, and threatening everyone with extinction. All the insects are desperate to mate with the one species they think could survive ANYTHING--the cockroaches. It's a desperate time for everyone, cockroach and commoner alike. But there are only two cockroaches left, both females--Thelma LaRoach and her friend Louise.
As Act One begins, the Insect Laureates are ogling Thelma. But Thelma believes that mating should be only for love. Her heart is not stirred by these loathesome insects. Join us, now, as Thelma yearns for a tall, dark, handsome cockroach.

What shall I do?
No roaches here to mate with,
To propagate with.
Weíre gonna be extinct--unless I mate with--
No, no, I can't!
Iíve often heard that bugs cannot be choosers,
But you are just an ugly bunch of losers.
I want a cockroach
And nothing else will do.
You creeps, get lost!
You really make me sick.
[THELMA trills] Ick!
[INSECTS trill]
THELMA: Yuk! [trills]
These vile repulsive insects make me sick.
I want a sexy cockroach...

But that's an oxymoron.
Whoíll simply drive me crazy.
You only want me for my eggs.
I want a cockroach...

We want YOU!
Who'll hold me
In his six hairy legs.
I would ra-- [trill]--ther
No! No! No! I'd rather be extinct
Than mate with one of you.



(music adapted from Bizetís "Habanera" from "Carmen")

As Act Two begins, the mysterious object in the sky draws closer. The insects are now desperate. They buzz around Thelma's friend Louise, each hoping that she will choose him as her mate. But Louise does not want to mate outside her species, because the offspring would be barren. Join us, now, as Louise expresses her contempt for these decrepit, droning insects.

LOUISE (to the audience)
See them scurry before my feet,
Each one hoping that I will select
Him and help his species compete.
These puny specimens I must reject.

Who wants bedbugs or lice or flies?
Their filthy habits are beneath reproach.
I do not like their compound eyes.
What I crave now is a big black cockroach!


INSECTS (and PLANTS): Bug of darkness, what's your intent?

LOUISE:   Cockrooooooach!

INSECTS (and PLANTS): You do entrance us with your sweet thorax!

LOUISE:   Cockrooooooach!

INSECTS (and PLANTS): We are slaves to your subtle scent.

LOUISE:   Cockrooooooach!

INSECTS (and PLANTS): Your pheromones are aphrodisiacs!

We're mad with love for this cockroach.
Sheís even cuter than a rotten egg!
But all she does is sing reproach.
We each would settle for one hairy leg!

Please mate with me!

LOUISE (to the insects)
Why should I mate with you?
Your lifespan is just fifteen days.

Please mate with me!

LOUISE (to the insects)
Why should I mate with you?
You like to sleep in mayonnaise.

Please mate with me!

No way will you get lucky.
Donít dare you touch my carapace!

Please mate with me!

You bugs are just as yucky
As something from the human race!


(music adapted from Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and Handelís "Hallelujah Chorus")

In the final, brief act, the mysterious object falls down from the sky. It is a meteorite from Mars, carrying bacteria that have been dead for a billion years. Alas, the cockroaches will never learn this interesting scientific fact--because they are about to go extinct. All the other insects will be unharmed, and they will celebrate with a new burst of song, dance, and evolution. Sit back and enjoy the thrilling conclusion to this epic tale of punctuated equilibrium!

LOUISE and THELMA, assisted by PLANTS (as the meteorite descends slowly from the balcony toward the stage):
[variations and repetitions of these phrases]
What is that thing? What is that thing?
Up in the sky? Up in the sky?
We want to live! We want to live!
No! We're going to die! We're going to die!
Oh, darn.

[Massive explosion sounds as the meteor kills THELMA and LOUISE. The BALCONY AUDIENCE launches a barrage of paper micrometoerites. The ENTIRE CAST and CREW of the ceremony floods onstage behind the PLANTS; they are carrying plastic pink flamingos.]

Halleluja! Halleluja! Halleluja! The roaches are gone! [repeat several times]

[As this is being sung, EVERYONE EXCEPT THE ROACHES dances the Macarena.]

(c) copyright 1996 Marc Abrahams