Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen is a work which seems particularly suited to Longborough, high in the Cotswolds amid dense forestation, where the woodland creatures we see in this most enchanting of operas surely scuttle about their nocturnal business just as they do onstage.
In this new production, director Richard Studer unfolds the action on a set which he has designed brilliantly to create illusions of space and height (ladders reaching skywards like trees, wheels trundling scene-furnishings across the stage whilst at the same time suggesting the cycle of the seasons). And his evocation of winter, just a few snowflake gobos on the back wall, is subtle and effective.
So all the life of the forest, with its gossipy denizens looking out on each other, is channelled with focus and significance, and the human characters appear almost as intruders as they live their sad, unfulfilled lives against all this teeming activity of growth and renewal.
In a fine cast Ella Kirkpatrick is a radiant, feisty Vixen, and Jonathan Lyness conducts a vibrant orchestra, blazing with colour. I have never before been so aware of the links with Mahler, Puccini and Strauss in this crackling score.
Though sung in English, we do miss surtitles. Important narratives go unheard, and, most crucially, the heartwarming scene at the end, with the tiny frog telling the irritable Forester (the excellent Paul Keo-hone) "it was my grandfather that annoyed you last year, sir", loses its immense life-force significance.
And it was wrong to bisect this compact, gossamer opera with a 90-minute supper-interval equal to its own length. We lost cumulative continuity and emotional involvement. Couldn't the junketings have come afterwards?
In repertoire until Saturday. Details on 01451 830292.