Some fine singing, excellent orchestral playing, a number of interesting interpretative ideas but framed in an uneven production that ranges from dreary to inspired and, being Pountney, verges on the offensive, albeit predictable.

There is too much sensationalist Pountney extravagance to detail. Raimund Bauer’s dark sets with some mood lighting from Fabrice Kebour, the odd extravagant tableaux, cerebral contortion, and the usual flurry of sexual abuse and wobbling boobs. There are more frames used as sets than in an optician’s shop and seemingly as many people on stage shifting them than singing. Why? Who knows? Like a lot of the show it is as opaque as wrongly prescribed lenses.

Fortunately, the orchestral playing, under Carlo Rizzi, is truly outstanding and the volume of applause for the musicians was in contrast to the very muted response to the design team, including the silly dance.

Anush Hovhannisyan is a powerful Hélène with a well-handled voice, solidly playing the key female role whose drive for vengeance on the occupiers for the execution of her brother clashes with her love for the “hero” Henri. He is sung with great conviction by tenor Jung Soo Yun Henri, who is horrified to discover he is the son of the tyrant governor.

That evil father, De Montfort, Giorgio Caoduro, doesn’t quiet cut it as the ruthless monster despite pantomime black leather outfits and (like two soldiers at the beginning and then two executioners) being wheeled about the stage on oversized stepladders. He has a massive Act Three aria that could be straight from Star Wars– Luke, I am Your Father – sung as another trussed up topless damsel is wheeled past, and then back again having been sploshed with red paint on her back.

Procida is, if anything, a scarier character as he plots mass murder of the occupiers with jihadist fervour, sung with vigour by Wojtek Gierlach.

The dance music is used to unnecessarily tell the back story of the unseen character – Henri’s mother – through the sort of contemporary dance that keeps popping up in opera. I concur with those opera houses that just omit it.

Five acts with one interval. Brace yourselves.

Les vêpres siciliennes Wales Millennium Centre on February 15, 22 and then on tour. Details

By Mike Smith