STAGING and performing opera in the present climate is a tricky proposition, suggests York Opera stalwart Pauline Marshall.

“How do you introduce the music to a new audience while retaining the quality expected from its enthusiastic audience?” she asks.

“York Opera believes it has struck a perfect compromise with its joint production of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, with extracts from Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro, at the York Guildhall on Thursday and Friday.

“We’re combining two seemingly different works in an attempt to encourage those who have always been tempted by opera and classical music, but have been too intimidated in the past, to experience the two classics on a smaller scale but with real intimacy and accessibility that’s not often present.”

Pauline goes on to say: “Carmina Burana will display just what the members of York Opera are capable of, with exceptional solo performances combined with a fantastic chorus. Emphasis will be placed on Carl Orff’s excellent score in the version for two pianos and percussion, providing the audience with a chance to fully immerse themselves in the music.”

The extracts from The Marriage Of Figaro will be sung in English, with narration to link them together.

Hilary Dyson, York Opera’s chairman says: “The aim is to tell the story, and relay the genius of Mozart, in a manner which engages the listener. It’s a new approach for us, and is being performed in an exciting new venue for York Opera as a way of adapting these great works and bringing them to a wider audience.”

The musical director for both works is Derek Chivers, while Ian Small is providing stage direction for The Marriage Of Figaro.

Soloists include Heather Watts, who returns to the company after appearing as the Queen of Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She will be singing the soprano solos in Carmina Burina, performing alongside regulars Ian Thomson Smith, Clive Goodhead, Hamish Brown, Steve Griffiths, Hilary Dyson, Becky Smith and Jennifer Garbutt.

York Opera continues to seek new generations of singers and Annie Howard and James Wood will be making their debuts.

“We’re also grateful to Banks Music for the hire of the second piano, without which the performance would not be possible,” says Pauline.

Tickets for the Guildhall performances on May 16 and 17 at 7.30pm are available from the York Theatre Royal box office, 01904 623568 or online at