IF Opera appears to have scaled new heights if its latest production Fedora is a good indicator of its 2023 programme.

I attended Saturday evening’s performance of at the three-act opera at Paul Weiland’s home at Belcombe Court in Bradford on Avon.

Umberto Giordano composed the opera to an Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti and is based on the 1882 play Fédora by Victorien Sardou.

Not even a downpour of rain, passing trains and an overhead plane could dampen the audience appreciation as the cast received a standing ovation at the finale.

The plot revolves around the engagement of Princess Fedora Romazov (Sky Ingram) to Count Vladimir Andrejevich (Luke Howe), with whom she is madly in love. 

However, he has betrayed her with another woman and, at the sound of sleigh-bells, he is brought in mortally wounded.

Many believe that Count Loris Ipanov (Charne Rochford) is the man responsible for the crime and the police set out on an investigation.

But the Princess resolves to bring him to justice herself and follows him to Paris, where she falls in love with him after he explains the reason for his actions.

However, she is betrayed by a letter and when Count Ipanov finds out that she is his enemy, the Princess takes her own life by swallowing poison.

Wiltshire Times: Sky Ingram as Princess Fedora and Charne Rochford as Count Lloris Ipanov in Fedora. Sky Ingram as Princess Fedora and Charne Rochford as Count Lloris Ipanov in Fedora. (Image: If Opera/Tiny Window Studio)

As my wife will attest, I’m not the greatest lover of opera, but even a philistine such as I could not fail to appreciate the soaring arias of Sky Ingram as Princess Fedora and Charne Rochford as Count Ipanov.

The most well-known of these is ‘Amor ti vieta’ (‘Love forbids you’) sung by Count Loris when he declares his love to Fedora in Act II.

I also enjoyed the performances of Lorena Paz Nieto as the Princess's cousin Countess Olga Sukarev and Alexey Gusex as the diplomat De Sirex.

All praise to the ensemble cast and musicians, who are drawn from a wide range of regional and national opera companies and orchestras, and colleges of music.

Led by their conductor Oliver Gooch, they gave a magnificent performance to a near-300 strong audience in a huge canvas auditorium in the Belcombe Court grounds.

The production crew for the staging, lighting and costumes also deserve a mention for their sumptuous designs.

You can catch two more performances of Fedora tonight (Thursday, August 31) and tomorrow (Friday, September 1).

Some of you may have already seen Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on August 27 and Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado on August 29 and 30, boith at Belcombe Court.

Next up is Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta on September 13, 15 and 16 at the Wiltshire Music Centre, to which I’m much looking forward.

Bradford on Avon-based If Opera forms a repertory ensemble every season, giving stable employment and experience to a group of performers and crew.

This year’s ensemble features some exceptionally talented artists, who will perform across the 2023 programme in a variety of roles.

The aim is to give the ensemble, chorus and guest artists the opportunity to experience a greater diversity of roles and add to their repertoire.

As If Opera says: “The entertainment industry is often a tough world, but we believe artists deserve fair pay and stability, and this in turn will help them to do their best work.”

I am not the best of judges, but I would say that If Opera’s current ensemble are doing a pretty fantastic job of producing their best work and are well worth seeing.

Tickets are still available through the Bath Box Office: call 01225 463362 or email info@bathboxoffice.org.uk or go online to www.bathboxoffice.org.uk