THIS is an unusual double bill: half an evening for dance fans, another half for opera buffs, linked by the Orchestra of Opera North under Garry Walker.

The idea is to introduce each group to an unfamiliar art form. Judging by the size of the opening night audience, it succeeded, although applause sounded more dutiful than fervent.

Given that Phoenix Dance has been in operation for 38 years and Opera North for over 40, this first collaboration has been a long time coming. Let us hope that whenever Opera North needs dancers in future, Phoenix will be its first port of call.

For this venture into Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring, the Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus, making his UK début, supplants the human sacrifice of Russian folklore with voodoo spirits involved with rites of initiation. This is fine in theory, except that Stravinsky’s score is entirely without Caribbean warmth.

York Press:

Vanessa Vince-Pang in Phoenix Dance Theatre and Opera North’s The Rite Of Spring

Nonetheless, the eight dancers bring immense commitment to the narrative, their ensemble invariably tauter when Stravinsky’s rhythms are at their strongest. Yann Seabra’s costuming adds skirts with brightly-coloured inlays for The Sacrifice (Part 2); these flash more furiously as the initiates fall increasingly into religious ecstasy. Walker’s orchestra reflects the rhythmic intensity but is not always tidy.

Puccini’s only comedy is here revived in the Christopher Alden production of 2015. Richard Burkhard’s Gianni Schicchi commands the stage, his firm baritone brooking no opposition. He also dupes the lawyers with a credible imitation of the deceased whose will he is co-opted to rewrite.

Tim Claydon uses his background as dancer and trapeze artist to full effect as the "dead" Buoso Donati, more than once reviving unexpectedly before climbing all over Charles Edwards’s mobile set in a red catsuit.

Tereza Gevorgyan’s Lauretta gives O Mio Babbino Caro all the right inflexions but not much feeling and Diego Silva’s tenor is lightweight as her fiancé. But there are plenty of characterful cameos, notably Peter Savidge’s Marco and Stephen Richardson’s wheelchair-bound Simone.

Walker conducts the stop-go score with idiomatic aplomb and the cast come through Alden’s anarchic antics with flying colours. Still, the evening has the feeling of a powerful starter and a succulent dessert, but somehow lacking a main course.

Further Leeds performances on February 28 and March 2, then touring until March 22