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Steven Page, Leigh Melrose, Peter Hoare, Elena Vassilieva, Nancy Allen Lundy, Alasdair Elliott, Andrew Watts, Graeme Danby, Sophie des Mars, Matthew Hargreaves, Frances McCafferty

Conductor Garry Walker; Director Simon McBurney; Set Designer Michael Levine; Associate Set Designer: Luis Carvalho; Costume Designer Christina Cunningham; Lighting Designer Paul Anderson; Projections Designer Finn Ross; Director of Movement Toby Sedgwick; Puppetry Blind Summit Theatre, Mark Down & Nick Barnes

A De Nederlandse Opera/English National Opera production in collaboration with Complicité

ENO, Coliseum London, 20 November 2010 (until Dec 4th)

A hit, a palpable hit... The most successful of many operas at ENO this season, it was good to have a brand new one by a composer little-known in UK, Alexander Raskatov (b. 1953) who was present for his opera's UK premiere.

ENO needed to promote it with cheap seats but it deserves to catch on and to be revived for a longer run.

Thousands of words have been written about Bulgakov's political satire and its operatic translation already; I would refer you to the Financial Times review of the Amsterdam premiere earlier this year for a full discussion of its implications.

We didn't find ourselves greatly engrossed by the music of the first half, but the events on stage in the second half were gripping right to the end and the music too was far more involving. Elena Vassilieva as the dog's unpleasant external voice, and Andrew Watts, counter tenor with a pleasant voice for his thoughts were outstanding, as was Stephen Page as Professor Preobrazhensky, the experimenting surgeon who drives the action which becomes out of control, and his scene-stealing maid, high coloratura soprano Nancy Allen Lundy [pictured with him R] and Peter Hoare as the dog become man to disastrous consequences.

Despite having the conductor in my sight line, I rarely looked at him. It was really Complicité's show.

From the dress circle, and with memories of the affecting WarHorses at the National Theatre, the puppet-dog was too small and not well enough distinguished from his handlers, nor as good as Blind Summit Theatre's puppet child in Anthony Minghella's Madame Butterfly at ENO; for the Coliseum maybe Sharik should have been a bit larger, and white? The cat chasing scene was brilliant !

Try to catch it !

Peter Grahame Woolf

See some ofStephen Cummiskey's numerous images on The Opera Critic.

Full coverage, with video discussions etc on ENO's website.

And a good first full appraisal of the London production from David Nice, who also contributes to the better-than-usual programme book.