THE new partnership between Royal Northern Sinfonia and Nevill Holt Opera was celebrated with a fully-staged production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, at Sage Gateshead.

Directed by Joe Austin, the action surged along with superb singing and comedic high spirits.

In a nutshell, as Figaro (Lawson Anderson) prepares to marry his bride Susanna (Aoife Miskelly), his master Count Almaviva (James Newby) has designs on her too. With the help of the rejected Countess (Sky Ingram) Figaro sets out to outwit the philandering Count.

Miskelly was a feisty Susanna and her stunning soprano voice was well-matched with the rich baritone of Anderson.

Newby gave his predatory role a menacing edge, while Ingram’s Countess was ravishing.

Anna Harvey played a spirited Cherubino, providing one of many comic highlights when she jumped from the window to evade the Count.

The aptly-named Andrew Tipple was hilarious as the drunken gardener Antonio, complaining of his crushed geraniums.

Inghram’s rendition of the famous aria Porgi amor was laden with pathos, while her voice blended beautifully with that of Miskelly in the brief letter duet.

In the smaller roles Stephen Richardson was a suitably magisterial Dr Bartolo, while Rowan Pierce made the most of her brief appearance as Barbarina.

The final act was rounded off with a heartwarming chorus and and forgiveness all round. The RNS, under the baton of Nicholas Chalmers, fizzed with energy and was perfectly wedded with the action on stage.

Gavin Engelbrecht