THIS year will be the first in decades in which York Opera does not stage a performance at York Theatre Royal.

Members have been performing there since 1986, but the company must look elsewhere in the eight-month hiatus while the theatre’s £4.1 million redevelopment capital project is carried out by William Birch and Sons.

Instead of viewing this as a lost opportunity, York Opera sees it as a year of change and renewal as it gears up for its 50th anniversary next year. The first production of 2015 will take the company back to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre for the first time since 2010 to stage Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus from May 12 to 16.

Strauss’s comic operetta tells the tale of Gabriel Von Eisenstein as he tries to wriggle out of an eight-day prison sentence, while at the same time wandering into a complex trap set by Falke to gain revenge for a prank inflicted on him by Eisenstein involving the titular Die Fledermaus.

York Opera last presented Die Fledermaus at the Rowntree Theatre in 2004, a performance remembered fondly by many of its members. Now the company returns with a combination of veteran performers and new recruits, directed by Lucy Thompson-Smith in her first full-length production with the group. Derek Chivers will be the musical director.

Chairman Hilary Dyson is looking forward to the challenges that 2015 will present. “This is an exciting opportunity for our company to not only return to a venue that holds fantastic memories for us all, but also to spread opera to a wider audience,” she says. “There will be challenges as we adapt to this change in our usual schedule, but we are looking forward to meeting them head on.”