Sir Thomas Allen, Samling’s patron, says the Northumberland-based charity ‘gives audiences the chance to say… at their debut I was there’.

After witnessing this highly-accomplished performance at Sage Gateshead, one cannot help but agree that we are seeing some of the opera stars of the future.

Ravel’s second and final opera L’enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Spells) tells the story of a mischievous young boy who, in a fit of rage at the prospect of doing his homework, damages a number of items in his room. To his surprise, the objects suddenly come to life and chastise the boy for his careless behaviour.

What followed was an exhibition of operatic performance, the fantastic singing complemented perfectly by the input of director Miranda Wright, choreographer Dena Lague and lighting designer Petr Vocka. The singers were accompanied onstage by a quartet of musicians, who occasionally formed part of the choreography themselves, most notably flautist Luke Russell during Rowan Pierce’s performance as the Princess.

The Academy singers, aged between 15 and 25, gave performances which would be acclaimed on any opera stage.

Having been in rehearsals for only a week, the attention to detail in the music, not to mention the perfectly enunciated French, was highly impressive. All the singing was excellent, but particularly worthy of praise are Alexander Banfield for his portrayals of the Wedgwood teapot and the tree frog, Ana Fernandez Guerra as the squirrel, and Camilla Harris and Jordan Carlton for their cat duet.

Most of the plaudits, however, should go to Charlotte La Thrope, who played the boy himself. There can be few characters in opera that demand such a wide emotional range, all of which Charlotte delivered with aplomb, from the early tantrums to the fear and fascination in the garden to the final redemption, and relief at seeing his ‘maman’.

This was only the second Samling Academy Opera, after 2013’s Albert Herring. Based on this performance, given to rapturous applause by the Sage audience, more will certainly follow. Give it a few years and I am positive Sir Thomas will be proved right – these young performers have very bright futures ahead of them.

Tom Emmett