YORK Opera’s charming spring production, Tales Of Love And Passion, has a second performance at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tonight at 7.30pm. Presented in English and in the round, this is opera up close and personal.

The festivities begin with excerpts from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Ione Cummings is a convincingly maudlin Santuzza, her velvety soprano doing real justice to the role. Hamish Brown is a confident Turiddu and his metallic tenor carries well in the small space. After a slightly precarious start, the chorus found their feet last night during the beautifully balanced Eastern Hymn.

The elegant simplicity of the stage and costume design makes for a smooth transition into William’s Hugh The Drover. Alex Davidson is superb in the title role, demonstrating a real understanding of the summery score. Annabel van Griethuysen captures the naivety of Mary with her bell-like soprano, though she would do well to resist straining at the top of her range.

Alex Holland is awkward but endearing as the protagonist of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Karl Reiff carries Lensky with conviction, but as a couple, he and Rebecca Smith (as Olga), are more convincing vocally than dramatically.

For the finale, we are transported to the Café Momus for Act Two of Puccini’s La Boheme. As Alcindoro, Steve Griffiths offers a comical buffer to Helen Eckersall’s wonderfully pantomimic courtesan Musetta. Impressive, too, is Ian Thomson-Smith’s assured Marcello.

Conducted with conviction by Alastair Jamieson, with accompaniment by James Sanderson and Tom Tozer, this high-spirited performance makes for an entertaining evening.

Review by Charlotte Armstrong