It was the 3rd performance of the Tsar's Bride at the Royal Opera when I went. So I was not sure what to expect. Rimsky-Korsakov's score was great - lighter than I thought. As one would expect from a largely Russian cast, the basses boomed and the sopranos sang well on top of the orchestra. The diction was good and, as it is a repertory piece for most Russian opera houses, it came across polished.
The production and design was rather good. Even though the opera was set in sixteenth century Russia, the production was definitely 21st century metropolis: it moved from a swanky cafe to the shopping street of Moscow. Act 3 was set in a roof top penthouse with a swimming pool complete with glittering guests and well groomed waiting staff - how it reflected the decadence of the oligarchs. The amazing thing was that it really worked.