YOU will do well to discover where the members of York Opera are hiding, or hear the secrets they have to impart, during next week.

That’s because they will be telling their Tales Of Disguise And Deception, where they regale some of opera’s most elusive and devious tales, in a way you would  least expect.

But if you want a hint as to where you might be able to hear these stories, a good place to start would be the York Guildhall on the evenings of Wednesday to Friday.

Rumours have it York Opera will be performing four excerpts from four well-loved operas under the musical direction of Steve Griffiths, with stage direction from a team of four directors: Hilary Dyson for L’Elisir d’Amore; Clive Marshall, The Marriage Of Figaro; Pauline Marshall, Princess Ida, and John Soper, Falstaff.

L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir Of Love) is Donizetti’s best-known opera, and a tale of the chaos caused by a travelling merchant and his love potion.

The following excerpt from Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro is set near the opera’s end when Countess Almaviva and her maid Susanna disguise themselves in each other’s clothes in order to expose the infidelity of the Count.

The third excerpt, from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida, sees Prince Hilarion having to secretly infiltrate a women’s college to claim the plighted love of the titular princess.

The evening will finish with an excerpt from Falstaff, the last opera from Verdi, which is his version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives Of Windsor and tells of the ageing Lord Falstaff’s attempts to seduce two ladies of Windsor.

So, four very different tales with two common themes. Deception and disguise. Stories of people going to extraordinary lengths to achieve their aims. And while York Opera will only be providing snapshots into the respective plots of these four operas they have managed to compile an engaging evening where each story has come to a head, with sometimes dramatic, sometimes humorous, results.

If the stories are to be believed, York Opera’s latest production, the first in their golden anniversary year, will be a truly unique operatic experience, held in the round in the Guildhall, and will provide a fantastic opportunity for people unfamiliar with opera to see what the genre has to offer.

One of the attractive aspects of performing opera in this way is that it gives many members a chance to show their talent and demonstrate their musical and storytelling abilities.

There are effectively four casts, one for each excerpt, some of which focus on the main characters, others involving the whole York Opera chorus. It will provide audiences with a chance to hear opera in all its forms in an intimate setting.

York Press:

Nicky Burrows in York Opera's Tales Of Disguise And Deception

Two of their newest members are Nicky Burrows and Elisha Lofthouse. Whispers have it that Nicky will be performing the role of Adina in The Elixir Of Love, and Elisha will be performing Nanetta in Falstaff. Both have been singing from a young age (Nicky having performed with Opera North aged 12 for their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and are relishing the opportunity.

“It is the first time that I have been involved in a production of operatic extracts focusing on a central theme,” says Nicky. “I am enjoying learning the different operas and immersing myself in the fantastic range of music.”

Elisha, when asked how this production compares to others she has been in, says: “The standard of the singing is exceptionally high. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and I've thoroughly enjoyed learning the music. It's also been really interesting doing a production that is staged in the round. You hope it will make the performance more immersive and personal which is something rarely experienced in opera.”

What role do Nicky and Elisha think amateur opera can offer within the performing arts? “I think amateur opera has a huge part to play, by making opera more accessible to everyone,” says Nicky. “A lot of my friends are really interested in coming to the performance to experience opera for the first time.”

Elisha adds: “I think that it plays a vital role, both in terms of making opera more accessible to people in local communities, and in providing opportunities for singers to perform and giving young singers like myself a chance to explore repertoire and gain performance experience.”

Those of you able to see through the cunning disguises of York Opera can find tickets on sale at the York Theatre Royal box office, on 01904 623568 or at

York Opera’s Tales Of Disguise And Deception will be performed at the York Guildhall from April 27 to 29, 7.30pm.

By Michael Foster