While music can be a portal to the sublime, every now and again one gets to enjoy a work that is, in the best sense of the term, ridiculous. Grétry’s L'amant jaloux, the latest in a series of former hits rediscovered by the ever-inventive Pinchgut Opera company, fits this description perfectly. This is not meant to denigrate the quality of the music, which was high, nor the performances, which were superb. Nonetheless, Grétry’s 1778 comic opera was intended first and foremost to amuse, and the bursts of laughter from Sunday’s audience showed that the present revival had hit the mark.

The plot makes use of almost every stereotype known to farce: over-protective fathers, jealous lovers, mistaken identities, misunderstandings, characters hiding and escaping detection by the most improbable means, etc. Of course, these are no bar to musical quality: Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro has all these low comic elements and more, and is a transcendent masterpiece. Grétry’s musical style is superficially similar to the high classical idiom cultivated by the slightly younger Mozart, but there were plenty of distinctive features and clever details to savour, including a quotation of the famous La folia ground bass when one character said it was madness [une folie] to remarry.

The Overture started out perkily as befits the sort of plot to follow, but a little way in a hugely over-dramatic chord derailed matters into the minor, and the opening material was only recovered some considerable time later. There was a curious buzzing texture at the outset, which I traced to the bassoons, modern reconstructions of 18th-century instruments. Most of the orchestral playing was first rate throughout the entire performance: the strings were particularly good, and the woodwinds mostly fine, save for a few little imperfections in tuning. Erin Helyard was his usual energetic self, leading the group with his trademark mixture of continuo playing (often from a standing position) and conducting. The beautifully finessed phrasing spoke of an orchestra thoroughly versed in the 18th-century style.

As an opéra comique, L’Amant jaloux involves large amounts of spoken dialogue: wisely, this was rendered in English, with French retained only for the sung portions. David Greco had the difficult task of starting Act I off with speech rather than singing, but he was the pick of the cast in his ability to raise laughs as the mercenary father Don Lopez, while Andrew Goodwin’s exaggerated mannerisms (“I am not mad; I am French!”) was also amusing. Making the French character the butt of many of the jokes was an intriguing decision by Grétry’s English-born librettist, Thomas Hales, but it was obviously acceptable when first performed at the Versailles Court.

The six singers were in very fine form. Greco was comically stern rather than blustering as the father, but he was capable of stentorian vocal outbursts when needed. Jessica Aszodi as the maid Jacinte had a wonderfully even sound and flexible delivery through her entire range. Celeste Lazarenko’s Léonore was a woman of decided character: this young widow was not going to be dominated by any jealous lover, no matter how Spanish and passionate. She had most of the coloratura opportunities going in the opera, and didn’t she relish them, demonstrating control and impressive high notes (she knocked off a top D late in the opera).

Playing the eponymous jealous lover, Ed Lyon had an appealing, warm delivery, and his ‘practice’ song of repentance (delivered to Jacinte rather than her mistress) “Du moment qu’on aime” was a lyrical gem. As the soubrette Isabelle, Alex Oomens’ lovely light tone was a pleasure to listen to. And definitely not least was Goodwin, whose off-stage serenade in Act II was as delightful as it was comically badly timed. As befits a comedy, many of the strongest numbers were ensembles, with the cast working together seamlessly.

There were two entr’actes featuring soloists from the orchestra in costume on stage; the first (a mandolin solo by Hummel, played by Stephen Lalor) was the more dramatically apposite, filling out the time while four costumed servants re-arranged the set for Act II. The second took place at the start of Act III after the interval, and while Melissa Farrow played delectably, an entire three-movement concerto for flute by Grétry himself was a curious way of resuming the action, with the singers waiting patiently on stage.

The City Recital Hall, as its name suggests, isn’t particularly suited for opera, but the sets by David Fleischer were effective: a high, panelled rear wall allowed for multiple exits and hiding places (although why every character had to crawl in through knee-high openings during Act III remains a mystery). Costume designer Christie Milton must have looked to Dame Edna Everage and Blackadder for inspiration in the matter of wigs, and dressed the cast in retro re-imaginings of 18th-century costumes. The stage direction contributed well to the overall effect, with the not-quite duel near the end a comic highlight.