Rehearsals are now in full swing for York Opera’s next production in the Theatre Royal – Gilbert and Sullivan’s first full length comic opera, The Sorcerer.

The Sorcerer was first produced in 1877 following the success of the one-act operetta Trial by Jury in 1875.

It established the first of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘stock character’ roles that became renowned and beloved in the years to follow – notably the sorcerer himself, John Wellington Wells.

He would be followed in later G&S operas by the likes of Sir Joseph Porter (HMS Pinafore), Major General Stanley (Pirates of Penzance) and a whole line of comedy roles in the Savoy ‘canon’.

The stage director for York Opera’s latest production of The Sorcerer is John Soper - who played the role of John Wellington Wells in the group’s last staging of the opera in 2001.

This time he will be directing Anthony Gardner in the role.

Anthony is also an experienced performer of the G&S comedy roles.

“John Wellington Wells is an intriguing figure,” he said.

“Initially he comes across as an amiable barrow-boy, a slightly more polished Del-Boy of his day, with the gift of the gab and amusing items to sell.

“However, as soon as a sale is secured, Wells reveals much darker depths, conjuring spirits, demons and hags to help him concoct a love potion.

“This is then distributed via the unlikely means of a pot of the vicar’s rather strong tea! It soon transpires that Wells is no fraud; his potion is extremely effective in ways that even he himself had not envisaged or hoped for.”

Musically Wells gets a wide range of styles – from a cheerful patter song promoting his wares to a dark incantation conjuring creatures of the night.

‘The Sorcerer’ will be staged at the York Theatre Royal on July 3,4,5 and 6 at 7.30pm and also at 2.30pm on Saturday 6. Tickets are on sale now at the Theatre Royal Box Office on 01904 623568.