The Oxford Operatic Society is a musical theatre association that was founded in 1907. It survived the First and the Second World Wars, going on to become a staple institution in the Oxford performing scene, known for its commitment to excellence, professional grade performances, and camaraderie.
A little history:
The Society split in two, forming the Oxford Amateur Dramatic Society and the Oxford Operatic Society.
1929 – 1932
The two societies amalgamated again and became known as the Oxford Dramatic and Operatic Society. Their first production was Merrie England, performed at The New Theatre.
The New Theatre was pulled down and the society moved to the Old Oxford Playhouse (known as the Red Barn) on Woodstock Road, until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The Oxford Operatic Society was reformed, largely due to the efforts of Percy Walters, George Walker and Bill Sawyer. The first production again was Merrie England, performed at The Oxford Town Hall. After five further productions the society took the momentous step of moving to in Beaumont Street.
Oxford Operatic Society performed for the first time at the The Oxford Playhouse. The show was The Mikado.
The society decided to perform two productions a year – one in the Spring and one in the Autumn. This pattern continues today.
The society performed at St Edward’s School and put on three shows at The Apollo Theatre in Oxford during the closure of The Playhouse.
Oxford Operatic Youth Theatre was founded with a grant from Oxford Operatic Society, with the aim of providing a chance for talented young people to perform on a professional stage. Oxford Operatic Society Committee members Alan Gray and Barbara & Rod Denton were pivitol in its set up and Rod & Barbara continued to work with the group for many years afterwards. This group is now known as the Musical Youth Company of Oxford although there are no longer formal links we continue to share a close affinity.
Nowadays, the Society regularly performs in both the Oxford Playhouse and the New Theatre, performing a mixture of opera, operetta and musical theatre favourites. And not forgetting the occasional concert!