YORK Opera’s autumn production of Bizet’s Carmen brings to the fore four young soloists, all in their 20s, some singing roles in opera, as opposed to light opera, for the first time.

Annabel van Griethuysen as fiery gypsy Carmen, Alexandra Mather as Micaela and Alexander Davison as Remendado are stepping into their first leading operatic roles, having gained valuable experience in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Tenor Andrew Powis, who will play Don Jose, is the exception here, having had professional training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Already he has performed such leading roles as Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore, Riccardo in A Masked Ball and Tamino in The Magic Flute.

After starring in Carmen, Andrew will head south to perform with Hampstead Garden Opera as Paolino in Cimarosa’s The Secret Marriage in December. He appeared previously with York Opera as Alfred in Die Fledermaus in 2015 before beginning his conservatoire course. "I'm thrilled to rejoin the company to sing the role of Don Jose," he says.

Soprano Annabel van Griethuysen has a wealth of G&S heroines under her belt and now steps into her first role in a grand opera. "I joined York Opera after studying for a Masters degree in Public Health at the University Of York and I found it to be a most welcoming and friendly company," she says.

She played Lady Saphir in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience in 2017 and Mary in a staged excerpt from Vaughan Williams’ Hugh The Drover earlier this year. "I'm relishing the vocal and dramatic demands of personifying the well-known – some may say infamous – character of Carmen," says Annabel. "Although this is a very different style for me, I feel supported by the directors and company – not to mention my long-suffering husband – in what I see as a thoroughly enjoyable challenge."

York Opera's Carmen will run at York Theatre Royal on October 23 to 27, excluding October 25; performances at 7.15pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 4pm, Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson