STAGED extracts from four different operas made a lively, not to say alluring, introduction to York Opera’s 50th anniversary year. Tales of Disguise & Deception visited Donizetti, Mozart, Sullivan and Verdi in turn, with performances in the round and sung in English.

The only drawbacks of the evening were the cold, hardly to be predicted, and the absence of flexible lighting. Otherwise the show demonstrated what a versatile company we have in York Opera, and revealed remarkable breadth of talent in its ranks.

A collage from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Elixir of Love) made a pleasing appetiser, with Ian Thomson-Smith’s happy-go-lucky Dulcamara easily duping the villagers with his plonk of a potion. Andrew Powis demonstrated a tenor of some distinction as Nemorino and his engaging Adina was Nicky Burrows. Hilary Dyson’s direction kept the chorus on their toes.

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York Opera in disguise. Picture: Chris Mackins

The closing scene of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is rife with duplicity and disguise in the garden darkness. But under undimmed lights this was tough on the imagination despite the ladies’ face-covering fans. Nevertheless Hilary Dyson made a most attractive Countess, nicely balanced by Susan Blenkiron’s sparky Susanna. Anthony Gardner was the forthright Figaro and Clive Goodhead the philandering, eventually contrite Count.

Comedy came into its own after the break. Princess Ida may not be mainstream G & S but it has many charms, as a scene from Act 2 demonstrated. Three young gents in female disguise, led by Michael Foster’s Hilarion, wooed Clare Meadley’s dignified Ida, Sally Lewis’s winning Psyche and Bethan Terry’s happy Melissa. Frothy stuff, but lots of fun under Pauline Marshall’s direction.

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Don't be deceived: York Opera at York Guildhall. Picture: Chris Mackins

Equally amusing was the finale to Verdi’s Falstaff, where the chorus, in excellent fairy costumes, gave Ian Thomson-Smith’s light-footed Falstaff his come-uppance. But it was all good-natured. Ione Cumming’s Alice and Elisha Lofthouse’s Nanetta made strong impressions amongst a hyperactive but disciplined chorus.

Throughout, James Sanderson and Tim Tozer alternated as skilful pianists and Steve Griffiths conducted with aplomb. All combined to whet the appetite for York Opera’s autumn Turandot at the Theatre Royal from November 8 to 12.

York Opera, Tales Of Disguise And Deception, York Guildhall, York, tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm. Box office: