Bright, colourful and lively, Oxford Operatic Society’s Carmen, at the Oxford Playhouse this week, is a triumph, and possibly one of their best shows to date. For a company more accustomed to musical theatre and Gilbert and Sullivan, stepping out of their comfort zone into one of the most celebrated works in the operatic repertoire is a brave move indeed, but they rose to the challenge superbly. On Monday the cast showed little sign of first night nerves as they romped their way through the piece with all the confidence and proficiency of seasoned pros, and there were some outstanding individual performances.

Newcomer Sian Millett is a real acquisition for the society, and as Carmen she dominates effortlessly, her operatic training and experience very much in evidence in her strong, resonant voice and vivid portrayal of one of opera’s greatest heroines. In her hands, the famous Habanera, Seguidilla and Flower Song are the tours de forces they deserve to be. Her Don Jose, Guy Grimsley, captures the impressionable but possessive nature of the character, and the smouldering passion between them develops convincingly.

Another asset to the society is former professional Stephen Pascoe, a wonderful Pooh Bah earlier this year and now a sensational Escamillo, who delivers the Toreador’s song with great energy and style — another show-stopper.

There are also sparkling performances from Hannah Grainger Clemson and Sarah Leatherbarrow as Mercedes and Frasquita, and from Simon Tavener and Alex Williams as the smugglers Remendado and Dancairo, and a sweetly-sung Micaela from Jennifer Riley Smith.

There is plenty of sparkle, too, from the chorus, who perform with great enthusiasm, energy and style. The running from the factory after Carmen’s knife-wielding antics needed just a little more conviction, but otherwise they impress throughout, and the wonderful gypsy dancing, complete with swirling red skirts, at the beginning of Act 2 is one of the show’s many highlights.

Carmen continues at the Oxford Playhouse until Saturday. Box office: 01865 305305 (www.oxfordplayhouse,com).