OCO past productions


2016 - Lizzie Strata

How OCO began

Oxfordshire Contemporary Opera was founded after the success of a first production, Lizzie Strata. The Opera, based on the comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes, was performed at College House, Stanton St John, under the banner of Stanton St John Opera Company. It starred Dawn Burns, and its success made the team that wrote and produced that opera determined to repeat the formula with a formalised and expanded remit for the whole of Oxfordshire.


Composer Michael Betteridge, writing in the Oxford Mail

Simmonds’ score happily swerves through numerous styles without apology … f The score’s eclecticism adds to the comedy and enjoyable frothiness of the narrative, as well as clearly defining some of the stronger characters in the opera. The small band of piano, percussion, double bass and reeds were used exceptionally effectively and efficiently as we veered from gloomy dark double bass and timpani, to high staccato piano and clarinet conversations.

Similarly Willcock, in his bold libretto, does not shy away either. Aristophanes’ original is famed for its innuendo and entertaining lack of subtly. Willcock is faithful in this respect. However this isn’t just public school boy smut – Willcock’s libretto is peppered with wonderful, seemingly unlaboured poetry, including clever internal rhymes that ensure the flow of the opera. Sondheim, Porter and Gilbert would all approve. “