FOR once, as Helen of Troy meets Shirley Valentine meets Mamma Mia! meets Offenbach, opera need not be all Greek to anyone.
And yes, the ‘often bark’ joke is included in Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s version of the libretto.
And yes again, the treatment of the music is no less irreverent in the Merry Opera Company’s production, given a single performance in Portsmouth. Borrowings are as blatant as they are liberal.
But the witty updating, with Brits holidaying in Faliraki no more or less debauched than the gods on Mount Olympus, does not detract from the essential musical quality of the production.
It is sexy stuff, as it should be, and the singing of a youthful cast is generally of high quality.
In particular, Christopher Diffey’s caressing of a lyrical melody as Paris is in itself enough to explain why Helen has the hots for him.
And Rosalind Coad’s vocal flexibility and expressiveness clearly and naturally has the same effect.
Wonder of operatic wonders, both look the part, too.
The five-strong taverna-like on-stage band led and directed by Stephen Hose is high on energy, and the staging is often as witty as the script.
I hope Merry Opera will return when the New Theatre Royal reopens after its closure for redevelopment this autumn.