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Fusion Confidential: the scientist and the soprano

Story of flatmates hoping for a breakthrough in very different careers is a thoroughly entertaining romp

22 October, 2020 — By Lucy Popescu

OPERA and science collide in Marcy Kahan’s feelgood, comic drama, Fusion Confidential, directed with a light touch by Emma Harding.

Jane (Cecilia Appiah) and Elvira (Charlotte Ritchie) are flatmates hoping for a breakthrough in their different careers. A dedicated physicist, Jane believes she’s found a possible source of limitless clean energy using a thermo-nuclear reactor and acoustic waves (Verdi’s Rigoletto provides the perfect pitch).

On Sunday morning, Elvira, an opera singer in training, anxiously awaits a series of masterclasses with legendary diva Luba Lampedusa (Tamara Ustinov). Jane enlists her flatmate’s help to pick up her lab equipment so she can work from home. In the taxi, before Jane can stop her, Elvira posts a tweet about her brilliant friend’s discovery.

The following day, Jane continues to perfect her bubble fusion while Elvira attempts to impress Luba Lampedusa by channelling the perfect “fusion” between character and aria. She’s a mezzo soprano and used to playing the “witches, britches and bitches in opera.”

It’s not long before the friends’ worlds become hopelessly entangled.

Alex (Adam Fitzgerald), a dashing American tenor who has caught Elvira’s eye, invites himself home with her and takes a peculiar interest in Jane’s work.

But is Alex really who he says he is? After Jane’s amplifier explodes, she asks Elvira and Alex to perform a live duet to provide the necessary acoustic frequency to reignite the reactor’s bubbles.

Fusion Confidential quickly descends into farce when Alex, disguised first as a Middle Eastern prince then a Russian spy, tries to infiltrate Jane’s home lab. Hot on his heels is the real Russian agent, Dmitri 2 (Carl Prekopp), keen to exploit Jane’s discovery.

Interwoven throughout are snatches of glorious opera (with additional music by Helen Neeves, Tom Raskin and Jessica Gillingwater from the BBC Singers, and pianist Christopher Weston).

It’s a thoroughly entertaining romp and no knowledge of physics (or opera) is required. Sit back and enjoy.

• BBC Radio 4, Saturday, 3pm

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