Setting Bizet’s Carmen, written for Spanish heat and gypsy passions, in a Brighton tent theatre with an English spring gale outside, five singers and a piano, is an act of faith.

And if that wasn’t brave enough, the five singers are all men.

Secret Opera’s CarMen for the Brighton Fringe was directed and designed by Robin Pieta who sings Don Jose, and very beautifully he does it.

He loves Carmen, counter- tenor Jorg Delfos portraying a softer and more subtle character than usual and Carmen loves Escamillo, a splendidly haughty Oskar McCarthy with resounding baritone and matador splendour.

But gender realignment confuses the original plot: Carmen needs to be a tough tart and not a sensitive soul torn between two loves. Samir Khan dancing Jose’s desire introduces more eroticism than necessary. Less is more.

Musical director Andrew Charity, responsible for the piano arrangement from the operatic score, does his best, but the rattling upright piano lends a curiously homespun feel to the production.

What remains in the mind, apart from the toe-tapping rhythms of the Habanera and Toreador, is the force of love, passion and obsession, given weight by song, and power from five brave men.

Three stars