THIS is by any definition an epic evening of music theatre which leaves the audience at times exhilarated, at times emotionally drained but also, after a very long night in the theatre, at times exhausted.

David Pountney, in his penultimate work at WNO, and design team combine the power of this new version of the Prokofiev’s score with a beguiling theatricality of live action on stage, video design from the same people who he worked with for Fall of the House of Usher/Usher House a few years back, and footage from the 1966 Soviet film version of War and Peace.

The “live” theatre action takes place largely in a space where observers look in from a curved gallery on the space that opens with Tolstoy sitting at his desk, the words of his great work appearing on a screen as all of the characters coming on stage before the sweeping drama unfolds.

There is much multi role taking including, for example, Dolokhov, Denisov, Napoleon and Raevsky from David Stout and Leah-Marian Jones, Jurgita Adamonyté (Helene), James Platt al switching roles with panache. Adrian Dwyer sang a deliciously caddish Anatole, plus other roles too, and similarly Simon Bailey powerful as both Balaga and particularly the troubled Kutuzov.

Lauren Michelle sang a glorious Natasha. Jonathan McGovern’s Andrei was splendid particularly his death bed scene, despite baffling scenic perspectives. Marc Le Brocq filled the pivotal Pierre role with ease.

Yet it was the force and beauty of the WNO chorus and the orchestra under Tomáš Hanus that made this evening not only worthwhile but something special.

Further performances: Wales Millennium Centre, Saturday, September 22 and 29.

Mike Smith