A short hexagonal opera

A princess… a kingdom… a destiny.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

About the script – the tragedy of a queen

In writing Apoidea, I had the opportunity to express an idea that has been on my mind for a long time: up to what point does occupying the throne in any of the still existing kingdoms in western societies remain a blessing and not become a burden?

It is clear that the members of royal families have so many of their problems solved. They enjoy all kinds of privileges, unattainable for their subjects, they will never lack for anything, and all this is in exchange for… nothing, for the simple fact of being born. Yet on re-examination, a prince or princess can only aspire to be a king or a queen. From the moment they are born, their destinies are pre-ordained, while the rest of us , however, are born with everything to do and so are responsible for our destiny and for the result of our decisions. Thus, it can be reasoned that the throne does have a price and this is not cheap, as it is nothing other than liberty.

To illustrate this idea I thought it appropriate to turn to nature, and more precisely to Apoidea, the family of insects to which bees belong. It is a fact that the life of a queen bee has all the elements of a tragedy. Unlike those of the rest of her working sisters, queen bee grubs are fed with royal jelly. The first to be born faces the difficult task of killing the rest of the candidates to the throne, her own sisters. It has no choice, to kill or to die, and this first forced action makes her a queen.

Then, at some point in the future, the point of reproducing to guarantee the continuity of the hive will arrive. It will be the first and possibly the last time that the queen leaves the hive for her a marital flight to mate with the drones who will die after copulation. From that moment on, until her death, the queen bee does nothing but lay eggs, an enormous quantity, each and every day of her remaining long life.

It is true that the queen will lack for nothing, she will not make the slightest effort even to survive as her working bee sisters will feed her, yet her existence will be limited to that single reproductive mission that she must accomplish while imprisoned. The workers, on the other hand, have a much shorter life span, yet throughout their lives, they carry out all the tasks of the hive, from nursing and feeding the larvae to cleaning and preserving the hive, to flying out to collect pollen from flowers to produce honey. They too have little choice, but which life is preferable? That of a worker, a brief one but that includes knowledge of the world beyond the confines of the hive and its roles as nurse or cleaner, or the life of a queen, though prolonged is restricted to just one mission – to give birth over and over again until she dies?
Perhaps the script for this opera is just a trivial comfort for one who knows he'll never become king and will have to continue fighting day by day to build his reality and his future. But I think that, had I a choice, I would choose to continue being the sole maker of my destiny. I am happy that no blue blood runs through my veins. If I am ever reborn as a bee, I hope it will be as a worker.

Germán A. Panarisi

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