Melly Still’s breathtakingly dramatic production couples a great design concept with powerful singing and expressive acting, to tell the emotional story of a water-nymph longing to be human so she can experience love.

Black-veiled dancers enable Rusalka (Dina Kuznetsova) and her pale, toadlike father Vodnik (Mischa Schelomianski) to drift around the lake as if borne by watery currents, twitching the end of Rusalka’s long mermaid tail like an animated puppet.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays with great sensitivity under lively conductor Andrew Davis: Kuznetsova’s magical Song To The Moon conveyed such compelling hope and passion it raised goosebumps.

The witch Jezibaba (Larissa Diadkova) initially looked like a plump, benign grandmother in a headscarf – but as a large group emerged dressed exactly like her, copying her hand movements in a scornful chorus, and gleefully dismembering forest animals for their cauldron, an air of sinister menace became apparent.

Life in the palace is a sophisticated contrast, with colourful high-fashion dresses strolling a stark white catwalk.

Voiceless Rusalka is panicked by the trappings of adult sexuality – the scarlet stilettos, the white bridal veil people keep bundling her into, and the path of blood-red roses the Prince (Pavel Cernoch) attempts to lead her down.

Escaping to the lake, long trailing white waterweeds are revealed as the tails of Rusalka’s pallid water-nymph sisters, ghastly in their condemnation as they cast her out.

As the Prince clasps his “fairytale” for their final doomed kiss, the stillness of the tableau created an intensemoment that was deeply affecting.