Power and passion collide in Puccini’s breathtaking masterpiece Tosca, which is brought to The Courtyard by Mid Wales Opera on Saturday, March 16.

Trapped in a life and death struggle against the corrupt police chief Scarpia, the diva Tosca and her artist lover face the ultimate sacrifice.

Richard Studer, artistic director of Mid Wales Opera, can trace his own love for opera back to his childhood and endless viewings of Ingmar Bergman's film of The Magic Flute on a small black and white television in his brother's bedroom.

"I was always the slightly different one in the family - into animals, music and art - but I didn't see my first real opera until I was about 15 or 16." While he doesn't remember what that first work was, "Gounod's Faust at English National Opera was the one that absolutely turned my head. The final act had me in floods of tears and everything came together in one art form for me."

It was while he was at university that he was first offered directing work on the basis of the scale and quality of the productions he'd done there, the first of which was The Mikado, set in a modern Japanese nightclub.

The working relationship he'd established with Jonathan Lyness at Bristol continued post-university, evolving into the Opera Project which they have run together for some 25 years. So, when the role of artistic director at Mid Wales Opera was advertised, they decided to apply as a team: "Because that's how we've always run our own companies and we've been working together since 1993. But it took endless meetings and discussions before it was confirmed we would be taking over."

"We joke that you can do any opera with just two doors and a window, but people expect spectacle from our productions."

"I like small for the immediacy and flexibility," he says of working with Mid Wales Opera. "Last year we worked with three singers and five instrumentalists, this year it will be five singers and four instrumentalists - but with new orchestration it's possible to create quite a hefty orchestral texture. What we don't want is to be an opera company that tours with just a piano, and the loss of colour that brings with it."

See Tosca at The Courtyard on Saturday, March 16 at 7.30pm. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit courtyard.org.uk