Opera Anywhere marked their tenth anniversary on Saturday by returning to where it all started — at the Proms on the Pond in Sunningwell. Last time I attended the festival it rained non-stop; this time, happily, the pond was bathed in sunshine, there was a congenial buzz from picnickers on the grass banks and the cast added to the festive atmosphere by strolling casually among the audience before the performance started.

Although Opera Anywhere’s founders, Mike and Vanessa Woodward, have dabbled in G&S during their first decade, The Pirates was their first full-length production, and the first time they had used a chorus (the East Oxford Community Choir) and an orchestral ensemble (the Pavlova Quintet). Director Amy Standish made good use of the pond, with pirates leaping energetically into a solitary punt, and the second act opening with the Major General sitting pensively in the punt as he contemplated his deceit of the “easily deluded pirates”.

Unfortunately, though — and I hate to say this, because I am a great admirer of Opera Anywhere — the production fell short of the company’s usual high standard, not least because it seemed under-rehearsed. Mike Woodward (pictured) had the potential to be a first-rate Pirate King, using his naturally mischievous personality to great effect, but struggled to remember his lines. Some of the younger singers, though promising, didn’t quite have the vocal clout for an outdoor performance. The production was saved by outstanding performances. Amy Webber shone as a strongly sung and acted Mabel, Mikael Onelius brought great vocal warmth to Frederic, and Jeremy Vinogradov and Dario Dugandzic were full of comedic silliness as Major General Stanley and the Sergeant of Police.

Not the company’s finest hour, then, but the evening was still full of fun, and ended on a high with the traditional ‘Last Night of the Proms’ singing from cast and audience.