TITLE: The Enchanted Pig

VENUE: The Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

By William Marshall

IS it really possible to write an opera – a genuine, through-sung opera with no artistic compromises – that can hold the attention of a family audience, ranging in age from grandparents to small children?

It would seem that such a feat is feasible.Š The opening performance of The Enchanted Pig at the LBT had a huge age range among the audience and yet there seemed to be less fidgeting and fewer mid-performance excursions to the loo than you would experience at the average pantomime.

With music by Jonathan Dove and words by Alasdair Middleton, The Enchanted Pig is exceptionally well judged. This operatic adaptation of an East European folk tale is musically rewarding – witty in parts, rather beautiful in others – and written in an idiom which satisfies sophisticated musical palates but manages to appeal to young children as well.Š

Apart from one song that delighted kids with its reference to bogeys, flatulence and other bodily malfunctions, there was never a sense that young audience members were being written down to. And there was much in the deft wordplay of the libretto, the vivid orchestration andŠthe ingenious staging that was calculated to appeal to seasoned adult theatregoers too.

The first rate cast fielded by The Opera Group sang with crystal clarity, so that the increasingly elaborate, fairytale plot – in which a young princess embarks on a fantastical quest through earth, moon, sun and the Milky Way in order to free her lover from a curse – remained as comprehensible as it could hope to be. A young generation schooled in the lore of Harry Potter would have had no difficulties.

And how good it is for young theatregoers to hear proper singing and see proper stagecraft and acting. It was quite a coup for the LBT to secure the only Yorkshire performances of this rewarding work, which has enjoyed much success elsewhere. If it comes this way again, make a date with The Enchanted Pig, no matter what your age might be.