ON stage, the world of opera is filled with high drama, tragic heroines and grand romances.

But off stage, life as a member of Opera North is simply “lovely”, according to Bury soprano Miranda Bevin, who has been a member of the company for nearly 20 years.

Miranda studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, and when a friend suggested that she audition for Opera North she says it seemed like the natural choice.

“I’d seen some of their productions and really liked them,” she says. “I never planned to stay this long, but it’s always been a nice company to work for and I’ve had some lovely opportunities.”

Miranda is an understudy, so she spends much of her time in the chorus or minor roles, but must be ready to step in to the spotlight should anything unexpected happen to the lead sopranos. Her favourite roles so far include the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute and Musetta in La Boheme. As an understudy she has to be ready to take over at short notice — sometimes only minutes. “A few seasons ago we were doing a double bill of George Gershwin operas,” she recalled. “I had a little role and was also covering the role of Trixie.

“It was my birthday and we were having tea at a little restaurant opposite the stage door when I got a phone call saying the girl playing Trixie was stuck in traffic on the other side of London — how soon could I be there? I told them I’d be 10 minutes, we paid the bill and away we went. I rehearsed a few lines before the curtain went up and did some dance practice in the interval — I didn’t really have time to think about it.

“That is an extreme example though, normally you know a couple of days in advance at least!” With many opera singers working freelance, Miranda says as a full-time member of Opera North she particularly likes having the chance to live a “normal” life. “I enjoy the fact that I’ve got some semblance of a normal life!” she laughs. “I can come home and see my husband and sons, and I know when I’m away and can plan around that.”

Despite having played so many roles in her life, Miranda says there are still a few that she hopes to be able to tackle. “I would very much like to have the chance to play Cunégonde in Bernstein’s Candide,” she says. “Also some of the roles I’ve played I have really learned from and I’d quite like to do them again. Opera North are always doing really original, new operas so there might be a role out there that I don’t even know about yet.”

* Miranda will appear in Ruddigore at the Lowry Lyric Theatre, Salford, next Wednesday and Saturday, February 27. Opera North’s La Boheme is at the Lowry next Tuesday and Friday, February 26, and Cosi Fan Tutti is on Thursday, February 25.

To see the full list of Opera North events for the season click here