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Perfect Child
a short opera

The brilliance of this piece was that in only twenty minutes the psychological struggle of Lucy was illustrated not only by the inner workings of her decision-making but also by the relationships in her life (husband, parents, in-laws). She is pulled in all sorts of directions by her family and grapples with her own values while dealing with this very current issue.

-- John Beckett, Schmopera, May 14th, 2018.

Lucy and Dan would give anything to finally have a child.  Following their last round of IVF treatment, a geneticist has been experimenting on embryos which they had agreed could be used for research. Which one would they like to give life to?


Set in the not too distant future, Our Perfect Child asks what might happen if we were allowed not only to select embryos free from genetically inherited diseases but edit them, selecting traits society deems fashionable?


Would we be susceptible to genetic advertising from IVF clinics? 


Could germ-line engineering encourage the spread of allegedly superior traits? 


Would selection of traits perceived to be desirable end up diminishing variability within the gene pool, the raw material of natural selection?


And wouldn't all this affect people not yet born, without their being able to agree to it?


Would this be the beginning of a post-Darwinian brave new world of unnatural selection?

First performance at the Royal College of Music's Britten Theatre on the 12th and 13th of May 2018 as part of a set of short operas on the theme of Mary Shelley's 'The Modern Prometheus', with libretto by Deborah McMahon, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones, conducted by Natalie Murray and set design by Sarah Booth, in collaboration with the RCM Opera and Vocal department.

Rebecca Silverland (Lucy), Sam Jenkins (Dan), Edward Jowles (Geneticist),

James Shouten (Lucy's dad),  Alice Ruxandra-Bell, (Lucy's mum) Peter Martin, (Dan's dad), Rosanna Cooper (Dan's mum)  

Tim Morgan (Embryo 1, the politician), Poppy Shotts (Embryo 2, the artist), Laura Hockings (Embryo 3, the mathematician). 

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