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Jonathan Dove – The Enchanted Pig

King Hildebrand: Jo Servi  

Mab, his eldest daughter: Kate Nelson

Dot, his middle daughter: Michelle Cornelius

Flora, his youngest daughter: Karina Lucas


The Book of Fate: Beverley Klein


King of the West: Terei Nugent

King of the East: Tom Solomon

The Pig: Simon Wilding


The North Wind: Jo Servi

Mrs Northwind: Beverley Klein

The Moon: Tom Solomon

Sun: Terei Nugent

Day: Michelle Cornelius


Old Woman: Beverley Klein

Adelaide, her daughter: Kate Nelson


Conductor: Tim Murray

Director: John Fulljames

Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – 15 December 2009

Daddy goes to war leaving his three daughters alone at home with a key to a door which must never be opened. Naturally our three girls enter the room and read the Book of Fate, the contents of which, which, once read, will become true. The eldest daughter is fated to marry the King of The West, the middle one is fated to marry the King of the East and the youngest is to marry a pig! This, naturally happens but the pig turns into a man at night, and he is stolen by the Old Woman as a beau for her daughter and the rest of the plot is taken up with Flora looking for, finding and being reunited with the Pig who is now, we presume, a man permanently.

Jonathan Dove wrote this entertainment for the Young Vic, which premièred it three years ago - and what a delicious concoction it is!

Although the music relies a little too heavily on the thematic shapes and feel of Stephen Sondheim*, this is a marvelously original work, which is engaging and great fun. The staging is simple, a revolving outer section helping with quick scene changes and doors at the rear allowing for the various comings and goings, and the costumes are straight forward, but designed for maximum humour – the daughter’s huge bee–hive hair–dos and a gold lamé suit for the King of the East, amongst may others.

The music is purposely simple because this is opera addressed to children and tonight the house was full of the younger generation and they were lapping it up, having no trouble with the kind of music which was sung, and generally finding following the plot to be quite easy.

It is to Dove’s credit that he can create the atmosphere and then hold it for nearly two hours, engaging both young and old. Of course, his very clever orchestration helped here, using a mere six players – trombone, cello, bass, accordion, harp and percussion. One never felt that anything was missing from the pit, and so skillful was the instrumental writing – not to mention the expert playing – that every word was clearly audible.

This production is excellent, and the eight cast members work their magic in many different parts. It’s hilarious and a nicely different kind of Christmas entertainment to take the kids to. This is well worth a visit, and it runs to 210 January 2010.

Bob Briggs

* No bad thing in our book, though TheOperaCritic declines our Sondheim reviews as "not opera"...

Illustration - Enchanted Pig's Father - Jack Pendarvis [Editor]