FROM the vibrant streets of Bohemian Paris to the warm sun of Milan. From the deep, dark forests of Germany to the tall and imposing Austrian Alps. Opera has always found inspiration in the dramatic landscapes and bustling cities of Europe.

For their autumn show next month, York Opera have decided there was no better way to celebrate opera’s rich heritage than by transporting audiences on a grand tour of the continent in which many of the great operatic classics are based, and from where many of the great composers come.

In An Operatic Grand Tour at New Earswick Folk Hall on October 3 and the York Guildhall on October 8, the tour will set off from Italy, with a selection of numbers from Verdi and Puccini to start the event with a distinct Italian flair.

Next, the tour will cross the Alps into Austria for a selection of Mozart arias and choruses. Then it will head north into Germany for works by Beethoven and Wagner, among others. The last leg will be a gentle journey down the Seine into Paris for a collection of French works by Bizet, Gounod and more besides.

The pieces have been selected specially to show off the best of Europe, both in terms of musical talent and the exotic locations in which an opera can be set. It is intended to be an impressive musical showcase where world-famous musical pieces such as The Pearl Fisher’s Duet, The March Of The Toreadors from Carmen and the Evening Prayer from Hansel And Gretel can be heard outside of their usual contexts.

The spotlight will fall too on lesser-known works, with excerpts from the likes of Lakme, The Force Of Destiny and The Merry Wives Of Windsor. The show presents a perfect chance, for opera fans both old and new, to hear some of opera’s greatest hits performed in a two-hour recital by York Opera with bags of energy.

Chairman Hilary Dyson says it was a bold decision to condense so many classic musical numbers into one show, but the European theme of the night gave them plenty of scope. “There are so many fantastic operas to choose from when we're deciding what to perform," she adds. "Concerts such as this are a good opportunity to sing excerpts from shows that we would otherwise be unable to perform.”

The grand tour will provide York Opera’s many talented members with the chance to showcase their talents under the musical directorship of Ian Thomson-Smith. “We're truly fortunate to have such breadth of talent within our company, which allows us to perform shows using this format,” says Hilary. “It’s great for our members too, as instead of having a small handful of soloists, we have an entire cast of performers who can show audiences what they're capable of. It’s also great to see one of our regular soloists, Ian Thomson-Smith, stepping up for his full, musical directorial debut.”

Tickets for the two 7.30pm shows are available at or on 01904 623568.