Transition Opera have got a winning combo just in time for Valentine's Day: Venus and Adonis, a snappy, jaunty modern dress opera that is emotionally satisfying too, in the gloriously battered and atmospheric Wilton's Music Hall.
The 1683 opera is about Venus falling in love with Adonis after her son Cupid pierces her with one of his arrows and their passionate but ultimately tragic love affair. Transition perform on traditional instruments and the voices of the young but clearly experienced cast is top-notch baroque opera. But the potentially deadening attention to period detail especially in a venue as well preserved as Wilton's is done away with in Transition’s modern touches Transition bring - and it really works.
Speed dating with a camp Cupid measuring love's progress with a stopwatch, Starbucks coffee cups, internet dating, compulsive social networking during a desk-bound lunch break, water cooler flings, fox hunting on horseback and a disco with the Three Graces... all these things should jar with the plinky-plinky harpsichord and the trills opera voices or worse, seem like a desperate attempt to make opera cool for kids. But instead, it makes sense; all these things are what people do to find love. Video projections of Facebook-style websites, video clips of naughty business in lifts and cameras on stage to projecting the performers in close-up are what we know and understand. There is no elitist or over-elevated style to obscure enjoyment.
The love between Venus and Adonis is tested when Adonis goes hunting against Venus' wishes and the resulting scenes are moving and beautifully sung. The performances are above all the electronic visual gadgetry and present-day elements; all these things become simply the setting rather than innovative flourishes as Venus holds Adonis in her arms for the final song.
Get a ticket and head to Wilton's for a truly transporting evening: step back in time with the preserved old music hall, come back to present day with Transition's production then escape time and space entirely as the exquisite voices enfold you in a playful but ultimately powerful love story for the ages.