THE beautiful setting of the York Guildhall is playing host to York Opera for three nights this week, ending tonight. Tales Of Love is a carefully-crafted show featuring famous scenes from operas by Bizet, Mozart, Puccini and Offenbach.

The first half kicks off with two scenes from Carmen, Rebecca Smith confident in the lead role and the chorus providing a convincing crowd once it gets past some initial timidity.

James Wood is an assured Leporello in the extracts from Don Giovanni which follow, although here – and at a few other moments on Wednesday evening – the presentation could have done without such overt acknowledgement of the audience. Nevertheless, a commendable performance.

Puccini’s Turandot features some brilliant but simple staging and costume, transforming the already grand setting of the Guildhall into a scene of Chinese palatial splendour. The chorus and numerous soloists work well as a company, always in control thanks to the musical direction of Derek Chivers.

The second half is given over to Act One from Offenbach’s The TalesOf Hoffmann. In this fantastical story, Hoffmann (Karl Reiff) falls in love with a mechanical doll, believing her to be a real woman. Reiff gives the best performance of the evening, balancing a powerful voice with a credible dramatic interpretation. Indeed the whole cast is at its finest in this concentrated operatic miniature which plays to the company’s ample strengths.

The difficulties of presenting opera in the round are handled well by the team of four directors and make excellent use of this gem of a venue in the centre of York.

Tales Of Love, York Opera, York Guildhall, tonight , 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

- Martin Scheuregger