OPERA North’s staging of Phyllida Lloyd's production of Puccini’s La Bohème has stood the test of time, having been first staged in 1993 and revived again and again.

Skilfully brought to life again by director Michael Barker-Caven, the production has returned reinvigorated with two new international casts, showcasing some of today’s most promising young artists.

The opening night at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal featured towering performances by soprano Katie Bird in the role of Mimì, alongside Thomas Atkins as the poet Rodolfo.

Atkins’ aria Che gelida manina was muscular and soared to the heavens, while Bird’s Mi chiamano Mimi oozed passion. Their voices entwined organically in their duet O soave fanciulla.

The inspired set of Antony Ward burst into frenetic life in Act 2, with Cafe Momus swivelling around the stage; the hustle and bustle of the crowd scene brilliantly choreographed by Lauren Poulton.

The Chorus of Opera North, directed by Oliver Rendell and children from Opera North’s Youth Company were in top form, while Stuart Laing gave a cameo appearance as a Parpignol on roller skates.

Samantha Clarke’s Musetta had a commanding presence, stealing hearts with her seductively sung Quando m’en vo’.

The famous quartet, with Marcello (Timothy Nelson) and Musetta exchange insults as Rodolfo and Mimi agree to stay together, was immaculately executed.

Act 4 starts with the bohemian friends larking about in their garret, the but mood shatters when the ailing Mimi enters. Emyr Wyn Jones, as philosopher Colline, gave a touching rendition of Vecchia zimarra, paying farewell to his old coat he intends to pawn to help pay for a doctor.

The closing aria/duet Sono andati? was a tour de force with Atkins and Bird opening the emotional floodgates.

Music from the pit, under the baton of Matthew Kofi Waldren, was perfectly married with action on stage.

The production is staged again at 7.30pm on Thursday and Friday, while Martinü’s The Greek Passion is staged at 7.30pm on Saturday. Box office: 08448 11 21 21.

Gavin Engelbrecht