Members of the English Touring Opera paid a much-welcomed visit to Bath’s Theatre Royal to perform two contemporaneous operas that could hardly be more different.

Staged across two consecutive evenings, they were Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera buffa The Golden Cockerel on Monday and then Puccini’s world famous La bohème on Tuesday.

The Golden Cockerel, the first opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to be produced and toured by ETO, visited for one night only after visiting 12 venues across the UK.

Based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, the mixture of fantasy, mischief and musical delight combine beautifully in the composer’s final and favourite opera.

A daring satire on the last days of the Romanov empire, Rimsky-Korsakov’s comic opera, part satire, part fairytale, may be viewed as a send-up of corruption and sloth in government.

The Golden Cockerel, in which we are told only two characters are real, holds up a mirror to the last days of the Romanovs, and in particular the debacle of the Russo-Japanese War making the opera as explosive as it is charming.

It was written in the wake of its composer’s dismissal from the St Petersburg Conservatory for supporting student protests during the 1905 Revolution.

But James Conway’s production has disquieting relevancy to the current war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, with the paranoid King Dodon obsessed with imagined enemies beyond his country’s borders.

We first encounter baritone Grant Doyle’s indolent King Dodon being spoon-fed in bed by his former nanny Amelfa (Amy J Payne), while his two sons Prince Guidon (Thomas Elwin) and Prince Aphron (Jerome Knox) offer contradictory solutions to save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, from a watchtower above, the Golden Cockerel (played with verve by Alys Mererid Roberts) surveys the kingdom through a telescope and shouts intermittent warnings of approaching danger.

But as the mood darkens in the second act, when Russian revolutionary uniforms begin to proliferate, the opera picks up pace as King Dodon loses the war against his enemy.

Robert Lewis as the Astrologer (with overtones of Rasputin) and soprano Paula Sides as the seductive Queen of Shemakha provide arguably the best performances of the evening, while Grant Doyle gives a suitably comic performance as King Dodon.

Despite its political edge, the musical score, under the baton of ETO’s new music director Gerry Cornelius, is daringly sensual and erotic at points, particularly Sides’ beautifully sung coloratura.

On Tuesday, ETO’s performed its much-praised production of La bohème at the Theatre Royal as one of 21 performances nationwide.

Sung completely in Italian, this breath-taking revival of ETO's acclaimed 2015 production was performed in period dress with poetic designs and contains some of the most-memorable arias and musical scenes in opera.

Puccini’s La bohème is a story of young love, opening on Christmas Eve in a Parisian garret, where two lovers meet on a snowy night.

Told with the most memorable music, from ‘Che gelida manina’ to the shattering brass chords announcing Mimì’s death, Puccini’s story of youthful love is a classic tale of passion, friendship, jealousy and mortality that captures the drama and poverty of late 19th Century Paris bohemia.

Exciting young soprano Francesca Chiejina sang the role of seamstress Mimì and is a talent to watch, while tenor Luciano Botelho played her love-sick poet Rodolfo.

April Koyejo-Audiger gave an excellent performance as the flirtatious Musetta, while baritone Michel de Souza supports as the quarrelsome painter Marcello.

Christopher Moon-Little directed the 2022 revival of James Conway’s 2015 production, which was conducted by Dionysis Grammenos.

The reception given to both productions by a packed auditorium said it all. Put together, a wonderful set of performances by a very talented team of artists and musicians.