If you go to an opera in a small town in Italy, the experience is very different from the lavish, high-budget experience of a Covent Garden, Glyndebourne or La Scala. The venue might have a few hundred seats, the orchestra a dozen or so players, and you expect a performance with enthusiasm and verve: perhaps less polish from the soloists than the international megastars, and certainly fewer raw decibels, but far more intimacy and fun.

So it’s a welcome surprise to go to a close copy of the same experience at a small venue in London: Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, sung in English and put on by Opera London, a small opera company started by Colin Jaque and populated by young, aspiring professional singers. The Marriage of Figaro has much of the French farce about it, complete with maids locked in cupboards, escapes by jumping out of windows, false identities and romantic encounters in darkened gardens. Racky Plews’ direction makes the most of the comedy, with wonderful dumb-shows in the overture and at the beginning of Act IV, and comic performances out of the top drawer from Jaque (doing quick costume changes from Dr. Bartolo to the gardener Antonio) and Alice Woodbridge’s Susanna.

Of course, Mozart always surprises you by throwing in some sublime music, usually at unexpected moments. Cherubino’s “Voi che sapete”, expressing love for all womankind, is up there with the most beautiful romantic arias in any opera, and was sung beautifully by Emma Rothman.

The singing was splendid throughout. These are not voices which could fill a Covent Garden, but that doesn’t matter. Opera doesn’t have to be an upper class, snooty experience for the super-rich or for musical experts only. It can be exciting, accessible, warm, and, quite simply a treat.

The production is on until Sunday 24th February at the 400-seater Shaw Theatre near Euston station. It wasn’t full on opening night, but it deserved to be. I wish there was more of this around...