DIRECTOR David Pountney is bold and confident in his vision that shines through this rich reading of Verdi’s sweeping drama. Perfection it may not be, a wild ride it certainly is.

A butterfly’s wing starts the wheel of time, Fate beats time, a gun is dropped by Don Alvaro, a bullet enters the chest of the heroine’s father. Destiny is unstoppable.

Fate is always present as an angel of death, fortune teller, a temptress magician, a war cheer leader in an Inca mask straddling the barrel of an artillery cannon.

Gwyn Hughes Jones is strong with flashes of emotional wonder as the half-Peruvian prince Alvaro, the freedom fighter who has lost his kingdom and his heart to Spain, in the form of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Leonora, the daughter of the Marquis of Calatrava who has forbidden the relationship. She is tremendous. A warm sensuous voice with notes of brilliance and dramatic intelligence.

Leonora’s brother Carlo hunts down Alvaro and seeks out his sister for vengeance. Luis Cansino completes this trio of powerhouses and is in fact rarely who off the stage.

The cynical comedy from Donald Maxwell as Fra Melitone is lip-smacking and the Preziosilla from Justina Gringyté chilling, elegant and refined. Miklós Sebestyé was a beautifully toned Padre Guardiano.

Conductor Carlo Rizzi brings about glorious musicianship while the huge chorus was in magnificent form.

Further performances at Wales Millennium Centre, February 10 and 17.

Mike Smith