The five-strong cast includes several of the work's creators. Christopher Purves again sings the Protector, baleful yet mellifluous except in some cruel interpolations for the baritone's head voice, while Barbara Hannigan, recently Mitchell's Mélisande (and Pelléas et Mélisande was one of Benjamin's avowed influences when planning this opera), returns in triumph as the passionate, wilful Agnès. She interprets the grotesque climactic transubstantiation with devastating simplicity. Mezzo Victoria Simmonds repeats her role as an Angel, joined on this occasion by no less a figure than tenor Mark Padmore as well as a handful of silent supernumeraries. All have been rigorously prepared for this revival by Mitchell and her admirable deputy, Dan Ayling. However, it's Iestyn Davies who raises the production to new heights. The countertenor makes his ROH role debut as the Boy, with an enigmatic presence that renders the harmonic eroticism of his duets with Hannigan all the more intriguing. Indeed, his melismatic delivery of the word 'merciful' suggests that he's a celestial visitor to a rotten world, come to give base mankind a bit of a kicking. If so, we could do with him now.