Birmingham Opera Company's He Had it Coming starts before the audience has entered the venue. They've to negotiate an alley off Bridge Street before being marshalled into the neoclassical former bank. Inside, coffins cover the floor, and a congregation sings a hymn.
At which point the room is plunged into darkness with the first, blazing chord of the Don Giovanni overture - and everything falls into place.
The moral uneasiness, the symbols of mortality...director Graham Vick has created an atmosphere in which that opening blast of D minor is as terrifying as Mozart meant it to be.
Every idea in Vick's production was this fresh and effective. In Leporello's Catalogue Aria, women of the community chorus rose from the audience, clutching babies.
The bank's spinning front door became the portal of Hell. Nuns massed silently in the surrounding corridors as Elvira pleaded for Giovanni's soul.
And it was clear that the entire company subscribed to Vick's vision. As Giovanni, Rodney Clarke moved convincingly from thug to playboy.
Andrew Slater's music-hall Leporello was both unctuous and irreverent, while Natasha Jouhl's Anna, rich-toned and magnificent in her anger, stood out. The orchestra under William Lacey played with verve and real tenderness.
Last week, Birmingham saw a WNO Flying Dutchman holed beneath the waterline by its director's contempt for the work's fundamentals. He Had it Coming is the opposite - a breathtaking piece of music theatre in which every detail derives from director and company's wholehearted engagement with Mozart's masterpiece. Everyone involved with this production can count it a triumph.