WHEN the curtain lifts on York Opera’s production of Patience at York Theatre Royal on Wednesday, many members both on and off stage will have been part of the fabric for much of the company's 51 years. However, a group does not endure for so long without bringing in new talent from the city and beyond.

Anthony Gardner and Elizabeth Vile are two of York Opera’s newer additions, Anthony joining in 2014 for The Pirates Of Penzance and Elizabeth joining last year for Tales Of Disguise And Deception, and now they find themselves among the principal cast for Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience.

Playing the title role, Elizabeth loves how Patience is such a contrast to other G&S heroines. "She is an isolated and under-valued character who seems to unwittingly become embroiled in other people's problems: not your stereotypical, upper-class heroine who is vain and confident. Instead she works for her living and is interested in the world around her."

Anthony says of his character, Colonel Calverley: "I like his spirit. He’s a pretty positive presence who looks out for the interests of his men and is prepared to do everything necessary to get the woman of his dreams. Even if he’s a little confused about which woman that is!"

Both Anthony and Elizabeth are veteran Gilbert & Sullivan performers, but how does Patience compare with other shows from their repertoire? "Initially, Patience appears to be very much of its era with its focus on aestheticism," says Anthony. "But scratch beneath the surface and its themes of love, arrogance, faddish trends and the cult of personality are both timely and universal.

"Plus, given the number of characters who are prepared to change their personalities and attire in the name of love, Patience is essentially a Victorian version of Grease, dialled up to 11."

York Press:

Anthony Gardner, as Colonel Calverley, left, Alex Holland, as Major Murgatroyd, and Alex Davison, as Lieutenant The Duke of Dunstable, in York Opera's Patience. Picture: John R Saunders

Earlier this year, Anthony and Elizabeth both performed in their first ever fully staged opera, Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre. "Full operas tend to be sung through and this is very different to previous productions I have been in," says Elizabeth, highlighting the transition from musicals and light opera to the full operatic works?

"But you do get a strong sense of achievement at the end of the run, and it's brilliant to be able to perform pieces that aren't done by amateur groups as often as many of the lighter operas and musicals are."

York Opera has provided Anthony and Elizabeth with opportunities beyond their past operatic encounters and both are enjoying these new experiences. "The main difference for me is the size of the group's membership and the opportunities to perform in large-scale venues," says Elizabeth. "The chance to sing on the York Theatre Royal stage and with a professional orchestra will be a privilege that I'm really looking forward to."

For Anthony, "the main aspects that make York Opera unique are its operatic repertoire, the opportunity to perform with a large orchestra – larger even than most professional productions can boast – and the thrill of having to fill a space as large as York Theatre Royal without amplification," he says. "It’s a very friendly society too, but I’m happy to say that’s a quality of all the societies I've performed with, not just York Opera."

Patience will be staged by York Opera at York Theatre Royal from November 8 to 10 at 7.30pm and November 11 at 4.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk