There are times a tarnhelm would come in useful. Limited to more conventional means of transport, this reviewer found that it took a ridiculous hour and a half to drive from Soho to Fulham, as a result of which I'm afraid I missed the opening scene of Fulham Opera's Götterdämmerung. Thus I can't comment on either the staging of this scene or the performance of the three Norns (except inasmuch as First Norn Lindsay Bramley later appeared as Flosshilde and Second Norn Jemma Brown as Waltraute), so my sincere apologies to them.

This is, it need hardly be said, an absurdly ambitious piece for a company at this level to take on. They tackle it with a bizarre combination of instruments – a four-handed piano arrangement augmented occasionally by a flute and a harp and, by the end, no less than four rather accident-prone French horns, which must be the musical equivalent of inventing a recipe for whatever you happen to have in your fridge. The piano was played by musical director Ben Woodward and Nick Fletcher, with one or other of them breaking off to conduct the other instruments as necessary. This arrangement left them invisible to the singers, who sometimes would have benefited from clearer direction. Mark Holland as Alberich, for example, has an impressively powerful voice, but was hardly ever in time with the music during his brief spell on stage.

This scene also highlights the need for more thoughtful stage direction. Alright, you can ignore Wagner's implication that Hagen should at least seem to be asleep, though it makes a nonsense of Alberich's repeated "Schläfst du, Hagen, mein Sohn?" But why have Alberich come on so early that he has to stomp aimlessly about until, mercifully, he eventually has a line to sing, the cane he carries making him look like Archie Rice trying to remember how his act begins?

Likewise in the previous scene, director Fiona Williams echoes Keith Warner at Covent Garden in having Gunther act out Brünnhilde's violation while Siegfried sings it from offstage. Not a bad idea, effectively showing us what Brünnhilde sees – but then why have Gunther rather than Siegfried wearing the tarnhelm, accompanied, what's more, by a mask of his own face? This makes no sense at all, and the slow motion sequence where he wrests the ring from Brünnhilde is frankly comical.

These cavils aside, this show includes some excellent singing in some of the most testing roles in the operatic repertoire. Jonathan Finney has the blade in his voice for Siegfried, at least in this context, though he's not a natural actor and needs to cure himself of the habit of shuffling about for no reason. More impressive was Zoë South's Brünnhilde, her powerful and unforced voice backed up by a strong stage presence – once again, let's hope setting her against larger orchestral forces won't compromise what's so wonderful about her voice now. Stephen John Svanholm was vocally and dramatically strong as Gunther, as was Laura Hudson as his sister Gutrune, not helped by the fact that their costumes made them look like old-style traffic wardens.

But the night undoubtedly belonged to Oliver Gibbs as perhaps the first clean-shaven Hagen I've ever seen, his military beret making him look uncannily like Rory Kinnear's recent Iago at the National Theatre. On top of his remarkable voice, he has Hagen's sneer down to a T, and his Act II revenge trio with South and Svanholm is as thrilling as you'd hear anywhere. One minor quibble – he really doesn't need to point to himself when he sings "des Niblungen Sohn" at the end of Hagen's Watch.

The set consisted of a backcloth, one part of which was occasionally lifted to reveal a small room that served as Brünnhilde's rock and later her funeral pyre (I was half-expecting a grand reveal at the end for the destruction of heaven and earth scene, but no). Emma Peaurt, Alexa Mason and Lindsay Bramley made excellent Rhinemaidens, chosen at least in part for physical similarity and kitted out seemingly via a trip to Monsoon. The men (and women, so the programme claims) of the Gibichung clan were played by the London Gay Men's Chorus, who seemed uncertain when to sing and clearly need more rehearsal, as I think did the pianists and horn players. On a positive note, the surtitles were nearly always in synch with the production, less of a given than you might think.

Fulham Opera present Götterdämmerung, at St John's FulhamRoger Smith reviews Fulham Opera's Götterdämmerung, the conclusion of their immensely ambitious Ring Cycle.3