Hansel and Gretel is one of the most wonderful operas in the repertoire, but a truly searching presentation leaves you wondering whether Engelbert Humperdinck, one of Wagner's most fervent disciples, was in fact taking the mickey out of the Bayreuth master.
In a little over two hours Humperdinck encapsulates the 15 hours of Wagner's Ringcycle, with forest murmurs, cavernous roarings, otherworldly shriekings, and the rest.
And the subject-matter is now not one of heroic mythology, but of domestic scariness.
It needs an accomplished orchestra to point these connections, and the agile, sumptuous sounds of the WNO (such resplendent horns just one obvious example) under the light-touched conducting of Gareth Jones certainly brought these out on Friday.
Richard Jones' production is high on domestic realism (a current WNO functional tic, as evidenced in Jenufa and Mazepa), low on fantasy - apart from the magical dream-banquet, with its chef-angels and fish-headed butler (surely a nod to Alice in Wonderland.
So the gingerbread house is anything but, merely a gooey concoction projected through a curtain while amazing scene-changes go on behind.
The cast was superb.
Charlotte Ellett could have disappointed as a late replacement for the indisposed, wondrous Rebecca Evans as Gretel, but in fact she rose to the challenge magnificently, working adroitly in tandem with the convincing, sulkily boyish Hansel of Cora Burggraaf.
Mary Lloyd-Davies and Eddie Wade made suitably despairing parents, and Joanne Boag was compassionate as both fairies.
And Graham Clark, magnificently accoutred, was a splendid, almost sympathetic witch, facial expressions traversing all that heavy make-up, and vocal inflections doing all the business. Pity about the creaky translation into English.