All in the Mind
Commissioned by W11 Opera in 2004
Synopsis: Can scientific progress eventually lead to a Utopia where the worries of life have been removed and people can live for ever? On the White Planet Dr. Neuron’s ‘Clever Clones’ company is doing a roaring trade in human beings. But what happens when they revive some Ancient Earthlings who bring with them their memories and emotions from former times?
|Music Director||Philip Colman|
|Soloists||The Brain, Nic Night, Emperor Mighty Rich, Ancient Earthlings (6), Celestial Voice, Dr. Neuron|
|Groups||Scientists, Bureaucrats, Telepathists, Engineers, Clones, Ministers, Courtiers, Guards, Bouncers, Press Corps, Waitresses, Dancers of Infinite Gravity, Museum Visitors|
|Orchestra||Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Piano, 2 Keyboards, Percussion|
Notes on Production: A complex storyline blending a number of science fiction themes – time travel, cloning, cryogenics – as regenerated Earthlings find themselves in a future dystopia ruled by an evil Emperor. Humorous and imaginative touches include an intergalactic night club serving “particle soup”.
Musically very contemporary, with complex rhythms and harmonies; challenging but rewarding to learn. Some very beautiful and harmonious group singing.
Staging with good use of lighting is recommended. There is excellent scope for fantasy costumes and set design. Age group: recommended for secondary age groups and up, includes broken voices. Some of the soloists should be musically competent.
Running time 65 minutes.
Music and Video
In a Museum of Ancient Science far into the future, a gigantic, artificial Brain tells of its birth on the White Moon several millennia before…
It all began in the labs of Clever Clones plc. The company’s Scientists, Bureaucrats, Engineers and call-centre of Telepathists work 24/7 providing parents with ready-made, no-trouble teenagers — “clever, attentive, content and convenient”. Life is safe but extremely dull What enchantment their exiled king, in days gone by, used to bring into their lives with his songs…
Suddenly, a violent drop in share price threatens the Company’s stability. Even the Brain is panicked. The Emperor, Mighty Rich, surrounded by adoring Ministers, Courtiers and Guards, makes a bold take-over bid: in return for total control, he will revolutionise the product, using personalities of some Ancient Earthlings stored digitally (“Several millennia ago, people inhabited a planet called Earth”). The Company gives in and the antique material i added to the vital Neuronium mixture. The result: a new breed of Clones, with memories from an earlier age, thrilled to be alive again:
“What fun all this attention! Fulfilment of our dreams!” The Emperor produces a contract and the deal is done.
The novelty takes off, the company shares soar; to celebrate, the triumphant Emperor whisks the Earthlings off to party. The Scientists, however, have misgivings (“Are these real lives that we have produced?”): life has lessons which only experience can teach, the Brain warns them — they must seek the truth for themselves.
The Earthlings have managed to get lost, but somehow slip into the Black Hole Nightclub past two gloomy Bouncers. The particle soup looks… interesting; however, it’s rather unsettling to learn that this is “where souls are sorted for recycling”.
A prisoner, Nic Night, mournfully sings of Creation (“Before Time was born, there was nothing and nowhere”) and the Earthlings’ reminiscences of the Blue Planet awake their own desire to see it again. But horrors! The Emperor’s true desire is the stealing of souls: the Black Hole has no exit. In a macabre Dance of Infinite Gravity, Partygoers taunt the Earthlings: “You demanded your resurrection: Now suffer eternal rejection!” Darkness envelops the Earthlings. The Scientists stumble on Nic Night and undo his chains.
The Earthlings awake in the Clever Clones laboratory — was the Black Hole just a dream… or do they hold the key to breaking the Emperor’s will? The Emperor bursts in, demanding back the Earthlings, his legal property. But the Brain has an idea! Just wind time back to before the signing of the contract! Things are looking ugly just as the Scientists return, escorting Nic Night. All recognise Nic as their long-lost king, now freed by the strange effect of the Ancient Earthlings. Nic again sings of hope — Hope never dies for the whole of creation, that’s where the melodies come from! — and challenges the people to choose between him and the Emperor. Advised by the Brain, the people choose Nic — and his belief in the unending quest for knowledge in an uncertain but exciting world. (“For life is best when you seek your humanity!”)
The Earthlings resolve to seek their old planet as they miss the joys and sorrows of life on Earth. (“There is a dearth of earthly things here on the bright White Moon.”) King Nic promptly outlaws cloning and, inspired by the Telepathists, he reinvents Clever Clones as Clever Phones, creating amazing musical instruments that respond to the musician’s brainwaves.
But, reminisces the Brain, alone in its museum case, nobody believes my story now: they think it’s all in the mind.