WHATSOC? LOPSOC!

Southampton University’s Light Operatic Society are this week putting on a performance of Sweeney Todd, so we caught up with the chairman for 2014-2015, Thomas Joy.  What exactly is light […]


Southampton University’s Light Operatic Society are this week putting on a performance of Sweeney Todd, so we caught up with the chairman for 2014-2015, Thomas Joy. 

What exactly is light opera? What’s the difference between light opera and ‘normal’ opera?

Light Opera, most importantly, isn’t as scary as people imagine it would be. It’s somewhere between musical theatre and grand opera, meaning whilst it’s usually more traditionally written, it still has ‘numbers’ and big rousing chorus scenes and ballads and everything you might expect to find in musical theatre. The true fathers of light opera were Gilbert and Sullivan, writing in the latter part of the 19th century and creators of some of the most popular pieces of theatre in the world, including Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, The Sorcerer and HMS Pinafore. Often parodied in places as wide as ‘Family Guy’ to contemporary theatre, G&S are world famous for their works. Certain works by Gershwin, Noel Coward and Sondheim are also classified as Light Opera, too.

The cast and band of Sweeney Todd

The cast and band of Sweeney Todd

When was the society created?

The society was originally founded in 1972, making it 42 years old this year. It was originally founded by our life president Professor Lilly, a former professor at Southampton, who still regularly sees LOpSoc perform.

What is your position in the society?

I’m currently LOpSoc’s chairman for the 2014-5 period. As you’d expect, this means chairing our committee meetings, meeting with my PA counterparts and just keeping the society ticking over nicely. As mentioned above, LOpSoc don’t currently vote for a president as Professor Lilly, our founder is our life president, so even after 40+ years, he is still in overall charge of LOpSoc! I’m also Musical Director meaning I oversee the teaching, and conducting of the shows, as well as working with our esteemed orchestra.

What makes LOPSOC so special?

LOpSoc are unique within the theatrical societies as we offer an unrivalled opportunity to perform at the University in the form of our unauditioned chorus. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever performed at all or are extensively trained, there’s a place in every LOpSoc show for anybody who wants to be in one.

The cast of Pirates of Penzance

The cast of Pirates of Penzance

How many members?

LOpSoc has roughly tripled in size in the past year! We now have between 35-40 members performing in each show every year.

Can anyone get involved? What are your membership requirements?

Anyone. One of the very principles of the society is that anybody and everybody can come and enjoy rehearsing with a group of people they almost always grow to know and love. And even if you don’t want to actually perform, the production teams are always looking to take new people on board to help put our shows together. You have to be a member of SUSU, but that’s about it! We have members of the wider community also come and join LOpSoc as honorary members of SUSU just because they want to perform with us so much!

What are your socials like?

Socials are usually quite drunken affairs! That said, we make a point to organise socials to see every Performing Arts show at the University to support our sister societies. Other than that, we’ve everything from 20s themed nights, drag nights, Victorian-themed pub golf to the simple trip to the Stag’s after rehearsals. As well as this are the more sober affairs visiting the theatre, the beach, Sprinkles, etc. If you’re wanting to go out, there’ll always be a group of people wanting to spend time with you in LOpSoc.

Jesters or Sobar?

Oooh. Depends on which member you ask, I’d probably say Jesters on the whole, though. Though if we could have the choice, The Edge!

Soton Tab or Wessex Scene?

#Soton Tab. Of course. We also love the Wessex Scene for their awesome reviews though, thanks you guys!

Fancy getting involved with LOpSoc? Join their Facebook group here and follow them on Twitter @LOpSoc..