YORK Opera have decided to take a different approach to performing opera in their June show Tales Of Love.

By focusing on extracts from four separate operas, they will treat Wednesday to Friday's audiences at the York Guildhall to a "Best Of" compilation of some of the greatest romantic themes and arias.

However, this presented the group with a challenge: who was to act as director for four very different operas?

The solution was to offer the directing role of each extract to four separate directors: two experienced hands in founder member John Soper for Don Giovanni and chairman Hilary Dyson for the second of the Tales Of Hoffman, and two York Opera directorial debut.ants, Lucy Thomson-Smith and James Wood, for the Carmen and Turandot extracts respectively.

Most intriguingly, Lucy is directing her father, baritone Ian Thomson-Smith, who has played many principal roles for York Opera since 1995.

"I've also known some of the people I'm directing since I was little and now I'm having to tell them what to do, which feels a bit strange and is a new experience for me," she says.

"Doing a show in the York Guildhall will be new to me too, and we'll be setting the extracts in the round, which again will be new.

"Very early on, we had a meeting when we knew it was going to be in the Guildhall and it was proposed to do it with the audience on three sides, but gradually we decided it would be better to have them on all sides, as it also give sus more space, which the society didn't need last year in the Guildhall for extracts fromThe Marriage Of Figaro and a full performance of Carmina Burana."

Ian will be facing the potentially disorientating t challenge of singing in the round, which requires 360-degree awareness of everything around him.

"We are using only piano accompaniment, which helps a little with the vocal projection, but I've not been thinking about the audience in rehearsals, but about interacting with the chorus who will be all around the stage, so I'll be going up to chorus members and singing to them with the audience behind them."

Lucy is looking forward to the Guildhall first night.

"It should be nice in Carmen for the ladies in the cigarette-factory chorus to have the audience reacting to them, just like Carmen[sung by Becky Smith] will be able to flirt not only with the men in the chorus but with the men in the audience too," she says.

Lucy first performed for York Opera at the age of seven in The Moon in 1996, later joining the children's chorus for Peter Grimes in 1998, and after studying drama at school, she did so at the University of Hull too, where she joined the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

She performed for two years of performing, then directed Ruddigore in the her final year.

While in Hull, she also directed several of her own compositions, including an interpretation of Alice In Wonderland at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe, and directed the University Opera Group in Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, giving her the chance to tackle a full-scale opera.

Since graduating in 2010, she has stage managed Ruddigore for York Opera, worked in theatre-in-education in Sheffield and directed West Riding Opera in a Second World War setting of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, "largely to account for the lack of male chorus members".

By day, she is now providing educational drama workshops for schools up and down the country, working for a theatre-in-education company; by night, she is directing rehearsals for the Jorvik Gilbert and Sullivan Society's September production of Iolanthe in York.

"I may be getting a reputation as being somewhat of a G&S geek," says Lucy, who aspires to directing more serious, heavyweight operas too, which is why directing extracts from Carmen is such a welcome stepping stone.

"I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to direct York Opera as they have been an important part of my theatrical career so far, and doing this production with them in the round is another step up the ladder," she says.

"It's wonderful to work with such a talented and very large chorus and with a fantastic principal cast, including my own father! It's also nice to be working with such familiar pieces of music, as I challenge anyone not to hum along to the Toreador song."

Ian, meanwhile, has enjoyed observing Lucy's directorial work close at hand.

"It's great that a lot of people have said how much they've liked working with Lucy," he says. Ah yes, but has he enjoyed it himself?! "There have only been a couple of times when we've stopped for a slight difference of opinion, and that was only because I wasn't able to absorb what Lucy was saying as well as singing at the same time!" he admits.

"But I've trusted her judgement and I'm really impressed by how everything is shaping up."

York Opera present Tales Of Love at York Guildhall, Wednesday to Friday, 7.30pm; box office, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk