YORK Opera’s spring production, Tales Of Love And Passion, will be staged "in the round" at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on May 16 and 17.

The chosen excerpts from four operas, Cavalleria Rusticana, Hugh The Drover, Eugene Onegin and La Boheme, feature no fewer than 23 principal roles of varying magnitude and these will be sung in English by 19 soloists, four of them taking two roles in different operas.

Leading the cast of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana will be Ione Cumming as Santuzza and Hamish Brown as Turiddu, while the lovers in Vaughan Williams’ Hugh The Drover will be played by Annabel van Griethuysen and Alex Davison, who performed principal roles in York Opera’s production of Patience at York Theatre Royal last November. Annabel also starred as Sarah in York Light's Guys And Dolls last month at the same theatre.

The two couples in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin will be sung by Thea Jacob and Alex Holland and Rebecca Smith and Karl Reiff, while the large cast for Act 2 of Puccini’s La Boheme will be led by Helen Eckersall as Musetta and Ian Thomson-Smith as Marcello.

The four extracts on the theme of love and passion are being directed individually by four stage directors, John Soper, Pauline Marshall, Ian Small and Clive Marshall, and will be under the overall unifying musical direction of Alasdair Jamieson.

"This will be the third time that York Opera has performed stage excerpts ‘in the round’ and the company hopes that the format will again be stimulating and fascinating to performers and audience alike," says Pauline Marshall.

Tickets for the two 7.30pm performances are available from the NCEM on 01904 658338 or at ncem.co.uk, priced at £15 or £12 for those in full time education.