Glyndebourne’s final production of the season brings together Ravel’s two short operas, which make a neat double bill. The title of the first, L’heure espagnole, is almost impossible to translate. It’s a sex comedy, set in the shop of a Spanish clock maker whose wife sends him off to wind up the municipal clocks while she receives her various lovers - eventually ending up with the hunky muleteer Ramiro, who merely came in to have his watch mended.
In Laurent Pelly’s naughty staging to Caroline Ginet and Florence Evrard’s clever, hyperactive set, Ramiro’s constant carrying of the clocks containing Concepcion’s lovers provides the farcical element at the centre of the piece, which Ravel clothes with his highly sophisticated score, beautifully presented here by the London Philharmonic under conductor Kazushi Ono. Top-notch performances such as Stephanie d’Oustrac’s flamboyantly voracious Concepcion, Alek Shrader’s hippy poet Gonzalve, Paul Gay’s prosperous Don Inigo and Elliot Madore’s credibly dumb but muscularly gifted Ramiro make this an unalloyed treat.
After the interval comes L’enfant et les sortileges, a magical piece about a naughty and destructive child who vandalises his room and hurts the animals in the garden until they are saved by a realisation of their suffering. Khatouna Gadelia looks suitably tiny against Barbara di Limburg’s giant table and chair set, while brilliant visual ideas come thick and fast as the furniture and creatures rise up to berate him for his cruelty. Many individual performances impress with their wit and charm, and though Ono’s conducting needs a touch more momentum it scarcely detracts from an evening of genuine enchantment.