Now that the set has been struck and the curtain has come down on panto season at Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre, it’s time to get back to a varied programme which covers all areas of the arts.

And one of the first high-profile arrivals of the new year comes in the shape of the Russian State Ballet and Opera House company, who will be staging Verdi’s opera Rigoletto – sung in Italian with English surtitles – at the venue later this month.

The music will be performed by a large live orchestra and there’s an impressive cast lined up for a month-long UK tour which kicks off this weekend and pulls into Stevenage on Sunday, February 22.

The company offered audiences two other classic operas, Carmen and La Traviata, last year and are now tackling another, a tragic tale of misunderstanding, revenge and sacrifice based on a Victor Hugo play.

Rigoletto was commissioned for Venice’s famous La Fenice opera house and first performed in 1850.

It’s often described as Verdi’s first work of complete genius, and is renowned for its subtle and original characterisation, especially in the case of the tragic court jester of the title role.

Producer Alexej Ignatow said: “We want to give the opportunity to audiences to experience these classics at a fraction of the cost they would pay in big cities, give them great pleasure and inspire them to want more.”

Tickets are £32.50, call 01438 363200 or visit for box office details.