THE past and the present have collided in tuneful manner for Patricia Wilkes.

The Easingwold singer is in the cast for the York Opera Society production of Iolanthe and the role takes her back.

“I was really surprised one day when browsing through cassettes at a music store, to see myself on the sleeve of a D’Oyly Carte recording of Iolanthe,” says Pat, who was wearing a sparkling silver fairy costume in the picture.

“We did this performance as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, for which we performed every one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Operas over the course of the year.”

Patricia, who used to sing with D’Oyly Carte, will become a fairy again next week, 35 years after she first donned her fairy wings.

Iolanthe tells the tale of a fairy returning from banishment for marrying a mortal.

“It was my favourite Gilbert and Sullivan production,” says Pat. “The outfits were amazing, the set was beautiful and the actors and actresses all superbly talented. Doing it again leads to some real déjà vu moments.”

Pat will be wearing the first costume she wore for the D’Oyly Carte onstage for the production, and it brings back evocative memories.

“The schedule was very intensive, six days a week for 11 months a year, rehearsals in the day and performances in the evening. Ten of these weeks were spent in London, with the others spent touring the UK and abroad.”

After retiring from the stage professionally, Pat later to teaching, working in schools and as a private tutor. She also specialised in teaching music to students with dyslexia.

“Singing is incredibly useful for dyslexics, because it can help them gain vital confidence and put their practical skills to the test,” she says.

Now that Pat is reliving her past by performing Iolanthe again, how does this production compare to the professional production she did in the past?

“There are a lot more people for one thing,” says Pat. “In the D’Oyly Carte we only had sixteen fairies; in York Opera we have around 30. But we produce a fantastic sound and there is some real talent on display. Some of the soloists and performers would have been good enough for D’Oyly Carte.”

• Iolanthe by York Opera is at York Theatre Royal from Wednesday to November 10. For tickets, phone 01904 623568