Don’t be deceived by its hilarious, crude opening: newly released animated opera The Fulfilment Of Ill-Conceived Designs becomes much darker as it continues. The plot tells of a couple so desperate for a child that they will do anything to achieve their goals, including ordering a baby from a salesman. Not a wholly original concept, but it works. A peppy song about the ready-made customisable babies is also darkly comedic.
There’s a change in art style for each scene, with illustrations by Giorgia Sugarman, Jemma Hadley-Sharp and Rosanna Verdon-Roe and character development by Chris Davenport. I did prefer the art styles, particularly characters’ animated expressions, in the first and third scenes, with the first having my favourite illustrations.
I’d love to see The Fulfilment… performed with live actors, as was originally planned for the Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama’s Atmospheres festival, but considering the practical or legal difficulties in doing so, what resulted is still fantastic. The ending, though shocking, is such a sudden change of pace, it perhaps needed more development. Again, maybe it would have a greater impact were this a live performance, yet for a work created and assembled remotely during lockdown, it is certainly impressive.
The opera’s music is its strongest factor: perfectly matching the lyrics and tone, it’s reminiscent of a Stephen Sondheim musical. It was composed by Luciano Williamson, who has won the Association Of English Singers & Speakers’ Songwriting Competition, the Benslow Music Young Composers Competition, and the Paul Mealor Award For Young Composers.
Williamson and producer Eleanor Benson collaborated with 30 young instrumentalists, vocalists, three illustrators, designers and production crew (mostly students and graduates from the RWCMD) to bring this piece to life – including recording and mastering a 23-piece orchestra remotely. You can tell that a lot of work has gone towards the creation of the piece, and the creators should be proud of this dark, funny, and thought-provoking opera. The Fulfilment Of Ill-Conceived Designs is available to watch on YouTube at any time.
words SARAH BOWDIDGE
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