It's Turandot – but not as we know it.

There’s no opulent chorus of soaring voices, no colourful pomp or elaborate scenery. Instead, a darkened stage houses fragments of grotesque puppet-play, bizarre moments of performance, bursts of film footage and a chorus of three dark-clad men who use sign language instead of voices.

There is music, but snatches of opera are doctored into a DJ mix while the rendering of Nessun Dorma chugs out, like an upbeat karaoke number with a cheesy, tinny backing. It’s deconstruction, potent, radical and memorable, but as we know it all too rarely on the Fringe. In some eyes, and ears, all this will be vandalism and sacrilege. This broodingly visceral mixed-media collage by Poland’s neTTheatre company might be unnervingly close to what was in Puccini’s mind when he started work on his last, unfinished opera.

Memories of Doria Manfredi had haunted his thoughts for years. A servant in the composer’s household, she had been a victim of distressing gossip that named her as Puccini’s mistress. After her suicide, medical examination proved the rumours false. The innocent Doria is harrowingly akin to Liu, the slave who protects the master she loves by defying Turandot’s inquisition with a silence that ends in her death. Her master marries Turandot.

It’s the suffering of Liu, and by association Doria, that underpins the imagery in Pawel Passini’s offensive on tyranny. And China, present and past, is in his sights and on the videos though you sense many other regimes apply.

Cruelty and silence are the stuff of this intense and vehement vision. Long skewers of naked dolls are strung up like an abacus of disposable subjects, vegetables are beheaded like Turandot’s unsuccesful suitors, voices distort so they can be heard but not understood while through it all, the dying Puccini is seen struggling with his conscience, his memories and his music, which, like Turandot, is a merciless and implacable force that subjugates all else in his life.

American baritone Adelmo Guidarelli arrives on-stage with the cheery greeting he’s aware “that everyone hates opera”, then explains that he has ways of showing us how user-friendly the artform is. I doubt many opera-haters would crowd in to see a guy tagged The Clown Prince of Opera: but if any did, they would discover that as well as having a fine voice, Adelmo has a sassy sense of humour.

Operation Adelmo hits its stride when Guidarelli demonstrates how opera has been pillaged by a mainstream pop culture in search of good tunes. Everyone from Bugs Bunny to Elvis has plundered its arias. The whole operation is slick, funny and powered by Guidarelli’s determination to entertain. There’s even some audience participation though he’s almost upstaged – if that’s possible – by his glamourous assistant Miss Ruby who uses the singalong prompt cards for some hilariously direct communications of her own.

Further along the same street there’s a lunchtime treat called Heroes, Heroines and Villains. It’s a compilation of opera extracts that showcase the virtuous and the vicious in various works, nicely put together and pleasingly well performed by Edinburgh Studio Opera (ESO).

A lot of thought and effort has gone into making this more than a static recital of duets and ensembles. Each segment is valiantly costumed, the young singers – including the chorus – character their roles appropriately while director Michael Richardson keeps things visually interesting in what is a comparatively small space.

Musically, the ESO set themselves a roster of challenges and, clearly guided by a meticulous MD in Nick Fletcher, they meet most of them with confidence and style. The Nixon in China excerpt from the act one banquet matched the rhythmic quirks of John Adams’s score with crisp precision and a persuasive stab at statesman-like rhetoric from Ben Ellis as Nixon. The Witch in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel was marvellously wicked thanks to Susan McNaught, singing with malevolent verve and brandishing her broom like an evil majorette. Jerome Knox, attractively at ease in both Figaro and Escamillo, Laura Reading putting light and shade and all her heart into Mimi’s introductory solo – these, like everyone on-stage, brought a genuine freshness and passion to the music. The hour simply sped past.

Turandot runs until August 27, Operation Adelmo until August 28 and Heroes, Heroines and Villains until August 16.