Ian Thomson Smith, who plays the title role in York Opera’s Nabucco.

How long have you been performing with York Opera, Ian?

“Since 1986, when I played Figaro in a production called The Con Trick, featuring segments from three operas featuring deceptions. After a gap of nine years I returned to York for Vaughan Williams’s Hugh The Drover and have been in the majority of productions since then.”

What role does Nabucco have and what attracted you to playing him?

“While Nabucco is the title role, there are large parts of the opera where he’s off-stage, saving most of his contributions for Acts 3 and 4. Before this year, Macbeth was probably my most challenging role for York Opera, but Nabucco is tougher still and I only hope I’m up to it.”

Why “tougher still”?

“Verdi baritone roles are always demanding. They require a powerful voice which is secure in the upper register, not an easy combination to bring off.”

So, have you found it difficult to learn your role?

“It’s getting harder to memorise stuff as I get older. It helps being able to listen to a recording with the same translation, in the car, over and over again. At least there isn’t any dialogue.”

What comparisons would you make with your previous York Opera productions?

“The use of the wide stage and flexible scenery trucks are reminiscent of our productions of Macbeth, ‘The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Peter Grimes, and it’s liberating having more space to play with.”

What is your favourite scene?

“I think the Act 3 duet with Abigaille should be a highlight, although it’s really demanding to sing.”

What is your fondest York Opera memory?

“I was really proud of our performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes in 1998. So many people said it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done, but we made a brilliant job of it.”

What do you do when you’re not performing?

“I’m a primary school head teacher by day. I also sing in a male voice quartet and lead a church worship group, playing guitar, bass or keyboard, depending on what’s needed.”