In a bold and courageous piece of programming, Victorian Opera has given Melbourne its first fully professional season of Cunning Little Vixenin a generation. Janáček’s tale is of a likeable but really not so cunning vixen, whose death is transcended by nature’s regeneration. Bringing this story and its extraordinary, experimental score to life throws up quite a few challenges and these have been met with VO’s trademark resourcefulness.

The first set of challenges are conceptual. How do human beings play insects and other animals in a convincing way? Roger Kirk’s colourful costumes for these characters immediately aid the suspension of disbelief. Both charming and comical as required, Kirk’s designs cleverly appropriate everyday items to artistic ends, whether it be the frog on a green bouncing ball, or the hi-vis jump suits for the chorus or the suitably cocky get-up of the Cockerel. By contrast, Richard Roberts’s stark set with its large, denuded trees is evocatively lit by Trudy Dalgleish’s lighting design, effectively communicating the passing of seasons.

Cunning Little Vixen, Victorian Opera Maia Hanrahan, Maggie Orr, Eliza O’Connor, Celeste Lazarenko, Ruby Ditton, Dimity Shepherd, Harmony Lee, Emilie Washington in Victorian Opera’s  Cunning...