THE Welsh National Opera return to the New Theatre Oxford with three productions taking to the stage over a week.

The theme is “Madness” with the operas I Puritani, Orlando and Sweeney Todd, performed from Tuesday, November 3, to Saturday, November 7.

The season launches WNO’s 70th birthday year.

The first to take to the stage is a new production of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani. This Italian opera will be performed for one night only on Tuesday.

It tells the universal story of love, derailed by the social divide. Initially set in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, Elvira’s madness immerses her in another time of civil unrest – the English Civil War, complete with period costumes.

On Wednesday it is the turn of Handel’s Orlando. Set in London in 1940 Orlando, an RAF pilot and war hero, is admitted to a private hospital and under the watch of psychiatrist Zoroastro.

Torn between his love for his country and American socialite Angelica, his moods swing from euphoric highs to psychotic lows.

However, Angelica only has eyes for Orlando’s fellow patient Medoro, dreaming of their escape to the USA.

This opera doesn’t simply chart a man’s descent into, and recovery from, madness. It encapsulates what it means to be human.

Through beautiful music Handel affirms that for there to be joy in our lives, there must also be pain. This opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Finally Sweeney Todd, a musical thriller tale of revenge gone sour, runs from Thursday to Saturday.

Sweeney Todd has a bloody and blind quest for vengeance. Those who enter his shop get more than a close shave. While the unlucky ones end up in Mrs Lovett’s pies.

Sondheim’s masterpiece is hugely funny, terrifying and deeply sad.

This production, by James Brining, is set in the late 1970s to early 1980s. It is sung in English.

Tickets cost from £17.90, for more information or to book call into the New Theatre box office in George Street, phone 0844 871 3020 or view