Discover the elixir of love at first sight as York Opera stages Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer at York Theatre Royal, July 3 to 6

Anthony Gardner’s John Wellington Wells practises his magic for York Opera’s production of The Sorcerer on a visit to The Potions Cauldron in Shambles, York

ON the last occasion that York Opera staged The Sorcerer in 2001, John Soper played the lead role of John Wellington Wells, the sorcerer of the title.

Roll on 23 years to find him directing the 1877 work, the first of Gilbert and Sullivan’s full-length operas, in next week’s run at York Theatre Royal.

“It’s a delight to be revisiting this great comic opera but this time as the director,” he says. “It’s shaping up to be a fantastic opera.

“In The Sorcerer we see the pattern for all Gilbert and Sullivan’s major works, from H.M.S. Pinafore to The Gondoliers. Its central character, John Wellington Wells, family sorcerer of St Mary Axe, was the first in the line of comedy ‘patter’ roles, followed in the ensuing years by the Major General, the Lord Chancellor, Koko and many others.”

Hamish Brown’s Alexis, left, Alexandra Mather’s Miss Aline Sangazure and Anthony Gardner’s John Wellington Wells in York Opera’s The Sorcerer. Picture: John Saunders

What unfolds in The Sorcerer?  Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre invites you to attend afternoon tea in the formal gardens of Ploverleigh Hall to celebrate the happy betrothal of his only son, Alexis, to Miss Aline Sangazure, daughter of Lady Annabella Sangazure. R.S.V.P. Ploverleigh Hall.

A love-at-first-sight elixir is mixed into the celebration tea by the sorcerer, John Wellington Wells. Mayhem ensues as the assembled guests fall under the magic spell. What could possibly go wrong?

All the cast members have been involved in numerous York Opera shows, led off by Anthony Gardner’s John Wellington Wells, his first York Opera principal role since Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore in 2022.

Amanda Shackleton’s Mrs Partlet, left, Emma Burke’s Constance and Chris Charlton-Matthews’ Dr Daly in The Sorcerer. Picture: John Saunders

Hamish Brown, Macduff in Macbeth in 2023 and Tamino in The Magic Flute in 2021, will be Alexis, playing opposite Alexandra Mather, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore in 2022 and Pamina in The Magic Flute, as his beloved Aline.

Chris Charlton-Matthews, director of The Elixir Of Love in 2023, will play the vicar, Dr Daly, and Ian Thomson-Smith follows up Macbeth in Macbeth and Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore with the role of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre. 

Rebecca Smith, Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, will be the aristocratic Lady Sangazure; Amanda Shackleton, Dame Hannah in Ruddigore in 2010, will play the “pew opener” Mrs Partlet, and Emma Burke, Gianetta in Elixir Of Love, will return as her daughter Constance.

York Opera in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer, York Theatre Royal, July 3 to 6, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or