DON GIOVANNI at the Grand Opera House, York


The UoY Opera Society was formed 7 years ago to give the people of York, from students to the wider community, a chance to experience innovative and exciting theatre in a genre with which they may not usually engage. This year is the first in which we are putting on two fully-staged operas with full orchestra - beginning with Mozart's Don Giovanni, performed for the first time in York's Grand Opera House. We have been fundraising for that all-important venue hire and are looking for that final push...

They did it!

On 3rd Feb 2014 we successfully raised


of £300 target

9 backers


42 days

Don Giovanni is one of the world’s most iconic operas – it is a timeless tale of passion and penitence. 25 January will see UoY Opera Society tackle this blackly comic stalwart of the operatic canon, updated to bring the eponymous libertine to a new playground in one of the darker corners of contemporary East London. Performed in the Grand Opera House, York, with full 40-piece orchestra, and Jeremy Sams’ brilliantly slick English translation, as debuted by the ENO in 2012, it is going to be good… if we can afford it, that is! We are looking to raise £300 to cover the last few costs of hiring this amazing venue, for one night only.                                                                

Never work with children, animals, or musicians…A note from the vocal coach and co-director

When the opportunity to put on Don Giovanni arose back in October, Will, my co-director, and I could not resist! After weeks of struggling with the pitch and cramming our, at the time, 5-person production team into our conductor’s car, searching high and low for suitable venues (surprisingly few places have space for a 40-person orchestra, as it turns out, unless you keep the timpani in the car park), we reached the last round of the application process. It was nerve-wracking, the other team were fantastic, but our passion for the theatre, both the art-form, and the building that we had chosen – the Opera House, an absolutely wonderful professional theatre in the town centre, won through. This would be the first time the Opera Society would venture outside campus, bringing opera to a much wider audience, and the first time most of the cast would sing to such a massive space. The opportunity to work in this professional environment is absolutely fantastic, and we are so lucky to have it, and the talent on both sides of the table to make it worthwhile. Not only do we have the next generation of great performers (and they need to be heard to be believed!), but we have an incredibly diligent and conscientious group of people working behind the scenes too – designing beautiful sets and costumes, publicising across the county, and of course raising the all-important cash required to go through with this exciting project. We have all been fundraising hard for several weeks now and will continue to do so up until the big day, and to pay for this wonderful venue, we just need that final couple of hundred pound push!

What is the UoY Opera Society?A message from our Chair and Vice-Chair, Rachael Duffy and Rachel Barry

Only in its seventh year, University of York's Opera Society is a young, enthusiastic society which is going from strength to strength. Our aim is to introduce as many as people as possible to the world of opera regardless of their level of experience of the genre. We have expanded greatly over the last two years, doubling our performance opportunities, and this year we are hoping to build on that growth, providing two fully staged productions, as well as three smaller scale showcases which are open to all performance abilities and are a great opportunity for students to perform opera often for the first time. We also strongly believe in the society being not only for performers, but directors, conductors, instrumentalists, accompanists, and those who just love to watch opera. Our weekly screenings and trips to Opera North are proving ever popular. The importance of this wide-reach has been particularly emphasised over this last year, as has our aim to get more widely-recognised in the local community. Our current venture is our first opera to be performed in a venue outside the university. Our production of Don Giovanni will be an incredible opportunity to reach an even wider audience and really bring opera to the masses, which is our ultimate goal. Our fantastic production team and talented cast are working hard to create our most successful production to date and we are very excited about the positive direction that it is taking our society. We would be extremely grateful for your support in this venture and helping to move the society forwards.

'Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.'Bringing a taste of the 21st century to operatic tradition in York this January

Over the last few years opera, a genre often portrayed in the media as classist and archaic, has undergone something of a renaissance. Cinemas have begun showing live transmissions from opera houses around the world, there have been surprise celebrity endorsements, and access schemes from the ROH and ENO have begun to draw in a new audience; as a result, opera sales are on the up! Most of us involved in this project hope to be a part of this growing industry – music and theatre is our passion – and it all begins here. Don Giovanni, is a story, above all, of passion, and it is ours that has driven this production of it from the beginning. Unfortunately, it turns out that you can’t put on an opera with passion alone, so after weeks of more cake sales than you could ever imagine, busking, candy cane delivery, and events organisation, we’d like to ask you for help in creating this forum for the next generation of arts professionals, and more importantly, a really amazing show thrown into the bargain. In return for your kind donation, we are offering complimentary tickets, production merchandise, wine in the interval, credits in our programme, and a chance to meet us and discuss more about our production. But the biggest thanks will be on the 25th of January 2014, where our immensely talented and hard-working cast will make it all worthwhile, performing their hearts out onstage for the first time at the Grand Opera House, York… hopefully!

For more information, visit or, or do not hesitate to email us at

Thanks very much for reading this far, and we hope to see you at the performance!

The Don Giovanni production team x

Inside the Grand Opera House, York