to the Oxford Opera Society
WHO WE ARE
The Oxford Opera Society aims to bring opera-lovers together and make opera more accessible to students. We arrange affordable trips to world class productions, promote opera productions within Oxford, and put on social events to encourage like-minded people interested in opera to meet and share their interest. We also provide opportunities to both experienced and inexperienced performers through talks, masterclasses, and operatic productions.
Whilst the society is mainly run by and for the student community, many Oxford alumni and non-student residents in Oxford are involved in the society productions. The Society is run by student and resident volunteers, and its activities in any one year depends on the particular interests of its dedicated committee. Since 2018, we have put on a major production every year, alternating between full operas and concerts of fully-staged scenes, as well as gala concerts. Although there are several operatic groups in Oxford, the Oxford Opera Society covers a niche because of its particular ethos of inclusivity, bridging the student-resident barrier and enabling a sharing of knowledge between people of different ages and experiences.
We are a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, and any proceeds we receive from our projects go back into the Society to make future projects possible. The Oxford Opera Society receives no funding, and it takes donations to keep new and exciting events and opportunities running. Any donations you can give would be gladly received.
Annual Oxford Opera Society production
Le Nozze di Figaro
Tuesday 2nd & Wednesday 3rd May at St Peter's
Friday 5th May at Sheldonian Theatre
All performances starting at 7:30pm
Pub Social - The King’s Arms, Sunday 7th May, 8pm
Everyone interested in opera welcome!
Opera trip - Aida, Royal Opera House, London,
Saturday 13th May, 7pm.
Bring your own picnic - Lady Margaret Hall,
Saturday 20th May 12pm.
An informal get together for just anyone who loves opera. Just bring some food and drinks to share.
Opera Trip - Wozzeck, Royal Opera House, London,
Thursday 25th May, 7:30pm.
Opera Trip - Il Trovatore, Royal Opera House, London,
Friday 2nd June, 7pm.
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Jacobine van Laar
Jacobine is based in Oxfordshire and is the secretary of the Oxford Opera Society. She was born in The Netherlands and started her musical career as a flautist. During her final year at the Sweelinck Conservatoire in Amsterdam she started her vocal studies with Wout Oosterkamp at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Jacobine continued her vocal studies at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London as a postgraduate student with Laura Sarti. After this she continued to study privately with Angela Hickey. She took part in masterclasses with the Wagnerian Danish tenor Stig Andersen. Jacobine performed both solo and in opera productions in many venues throughout the UK, The Netherlands and France. Roles include Floria (La Traviata), Suor Angelica, Lady Billows (Albert Herring), Dido (Dido & Aeneas), First Lady (Magic Flute) and Second Lady (Elektra). Jacobine also works as a lawyer.
Alex Bridges is in his second year at New College studying Russian and English Literature. He has been playing the violin since childhood and tries to just about keep it up alongside his degree, although the extent to which this has succeeded is rather debatable (as the dust on his case at the moment would probably show). Currently, he spends most of his time on Oxford Drama, enjoying the wealth of acting opportunities in the University before plunging back into late-night essay writing. He also works as a reviewer for the current English National Opera season and is enjoying the amount of opera he’s exposed to as well as the new style of evaluative journalism he’s had to (rather quickly) pick up!
Lucia is a second year History and Economics student at Pembroke College. Completely musically ungifted, having scraped a pass at her most recent ABRSM cello exam, she has enjoyed being part of Oxford Opera Society in a non-singing, non-playing capacity! She first became involved with the Society as co-producer of last year’s Chiaroscuro: Opera Scenes production and is excited to be on the committee of the society this year, organising events as Social Secretary. Her tastes in opera are eclectic and some recent favourites have included Brett Dean’s Hamlet, Puccini’s Tosca and Britten’s Death in Venice. Last year, she even dragged a friend on three trains and a bus from Oxford to see a fantastic production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on tour in Milton Keynes!
Bernard de Graaf
Bernard has a background in software development and always finds himself somehow volunteering for building and maintaining websites. Working in cyber security as a program director he helps keeping the society's digital assets secure. Outside work, Bernard has used his project management skills to organise music events ranging from concerts to an opera summer school in France. As an amateur musician he has been playing the violin for years, sings as a bass in choirs on an ad-hoc basis and recently started playing the double bass.
This could be you!
organise funding applications to funding bodies;
approach various organisations to seek sponsorship;
develop the Society’s funding and subscription models;
maintain external contacts.
Soprano Melissa Guiliano grew up in Peoria, Illinois, a working-class town south of Chicago. She earned her MMus in Vocal Performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and continues to study with Louise Crane. Melissa is passionate about arts outreach and community activity. She’s given lecture recitals on American Art Song, collaborated in performance art exhibitions, sung in care homes, and worked with special needs students and young children, in particular as concert manager for the critically acclaimed concert series, Bach to Baby. Like many musicians these days, she has streamed song recitals for audiences to enjoy at home. In 2020, she appeared in the award-winning film rendition of L’enfant et les Sortilèges with VOPERA and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, available on Marquee TV. In summer 2021, she joined the Oxford Opera Society as Set and Costume Designer, Fundraising Manager, as well as chorus member for their filmed opera, A Feast in Time of Plague, by César Cui. Last winter, she finally sang in La Boheme with Instant Opera – after four prior cancellations due to the pandemic. At the start of 2022, she rejoined the Oxford Opera Society for their opera scenes singing the chorus as well as the roles of Lakmè (Lakmè), Musetta (La Boheme), and Valencienne (Die lustige Witwe). She also volunteers as an organizer of ‘Opera Night!’, a monthly concert series hosted at the Oxford Blue Pub. Melissa is a student practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method® and has a particular interest in how movement can impact an audience’s perception of the arts. She has a visual arts background and is developing a project which uses her own illustrations to show how she experiences singing a song cycle.
Resident Musical Director
Beth Fitzpatrick (also known as Fitz) is a third year Music student at St Peter’s College. They have an ARSM Diploma in Piano (2019), alongside Grade 8 distinctions in Voice (2018) and Violin (2017). They took up conducting at the beginning of their university degree, and made their Oxford conducting debut in November of 2021 with the St Peter’s College Music Society in a performance of Saint-Saëns’ Le carnaval des animaux.
They have since been an active musical director in the Oxford Drama scene, working as AMD on Persephone (Nov 2021, Playhouse), and MD on Ocean Madness (Nov 2021, Keble O’Reilly) and Carrie (May 2022, Playhouse). They are now a regular musical advisor on many student productions, such as The Addams Family (Mar 2023, St Catherine’s College).
Their operatic conducting debut was with the Oxford University Gilbert and Sullivan Society, conducting The Mikado (Mar 2022, University Church), and conducted multiple scenes in the society’s Opera Scenes Gala in Feb 2022, including Der Vampyr and Die Zauberflöte. They are delighted to be conducting this year’s production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, while also conducting Holst’s St Paul’s Suite and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in the fundraising concert for the production – all whilst attempting to ignore the looming presence of Finals…!
A current second year student reading Music at The Queen’s College, Oxford, music has been a major part of Sophie’s life since the age of 5, starting with the violin, piano and more recently, singing. Since then, Sophie has been a member of several ensembles, including the National Children’s Orchestra, National Youth Choir, Junior RNCM choir, the Rudolfus Choir, Hallé Youth Choir and Orchestra, and the Queen’s College Choir, performing at many prestigious venues, both around the country and overseas, a highlight being at The Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms. She has performed in several productions, such as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera and has won a number of festival trophies for music and drama, as well as a bursary prize for Chester Young Musician of the Year.
Her love for singing opera started under the tutelage of Linda Richardson during her time at the Junior RNCM, following which she attended Chetham’s School of Music, with Voice as first study, under the direction of Marcus Farnsworth. Highlight performances included masterclasses with Roderick Williams and Libby Burgess, singing Violetta in the Brindisi for China State TV, opera scenes as Susanna from Marriage of Figaro and Fiordiligi from Cosi Fan Tutte, as well as solo external recitals.
In the Oxford Opera Society’s Opera Scenes, Sophie made her directing debut in scenes from La Bohème, L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Die Vampyr, and Lakmé.
Upcoming projects include several solo recitals, singing the role of Susanna in the Society’s current project, The Marriage of Figaro in the Sheldonian Theatre, as well as dramaturg for this production.
Tonya has been on the Oxford Opera Society committee since 2017, becoming Secretary in 2018, Treasurer in 2020, and finally being appointed President in 2021. She is an alumna of Oxford University, having studied law at St Hilda’s College between 2010 and 2013, but has continued living and working in Oxford, dividing her time between her work as a barrister and now studying Vocal and Operatic Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Since joining, Tonya has sung in a number of productions and was the co-creator of the now traditional biennial Opera Scenes concerts, and the new Pub Opera Nights. It is her ambition to regain the Society’s reputation as a high quality performing company, while seeking to make it more inclusive to singers and opera lovers of all backgrounds and abilities.
This could be you!
Keep proper records of the Club’s financial transactions in accordance with current accepted accounting rules and practices;
prepare termly accounts;
ensure that bills are paid and cash is banked;
be a signatory on and liaise with the bank to manage the Society’s account;
provide updates to the committee on financial matters;
be responsible for budgetary decisions;
liaise with the producers on questions of budget and invoicing for any productions;
retain overall responsibility of the treasurer role in line with the constitution.