The first thing you see in Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser's production of Bizet's Carmen is the huge stroke of scarlet paint on the front cloth.
It'd be too easy to dismiss this as a broad-brush production to match, but with its rudimentary sets and frequent outings (it's been popping up in WNO schedules since 1997) it's hard to avoid a feeling of the back-burner, especially when, as this week, it's revived alongside two new productions by David Pountney.
To a greater than usual extent, everything rested on revival director Caroline Chaney - and the individual singers.
What raised this performance above the routine was Peter Wedd's Don José.
From the outset, Wedd projected a personality far from the traditional good little soldier: introspective, intimidated; reacting to Carmen's advances with a quiet obsessiveness that developed in the last two acts into a clenched, genuinely sinister psychosis.
If it felt at times like he'd wandered in from Wozzeck, his pairing with Jessica Muirhead's quietly determined Micaëla was an inspired bit of vocal casting.
Their voices share a purity and focus that, combined with some fine acting, illustrated the not-quite couple's otherness from the world in which they find themselves trapped.
They also threw into sharp relief Alessandra Volpe's earthy, fiercely physical Carmen – sung in a thick, dark, low-lying mezzo, with a sense of drama that occasionally affected her intonation – and Simon Thorpe's imposing but vocally underpowered Escamillo, not always heard to best advantage over conductor James Southall's headstrong orchestra.
Le Dancaïre (Julian Boyce), Frasquita (Amy Freston) and Mercédès (Emma Carrington) were sharply characterised and brightly sung - though much detail was obscured by dingy lighting, even in the daylight scenes.
Still, the WNO Chorus blazed through the gloom in all its accustomed glory, and, along with those central performances helped make this a more-than-serviceable performance of a (still) just-about-serviceable production.