‘Don Giovanni’ producer shares the accessible and collective voice of opera

Anastasia Bow-Bertrand 3 February 2014

Tamsin Lim, producer of the Cambridge University Opera Society Mainshow, Don Giovanni and History of Art finalist, tells us about her role and what we can expect from the show.

What does your role entail?

Managing, casting, budgeting, publicizing, emailing. Trying not to freak out!

How many people is your team composed of?

Roughly 80 people! We have a huge cast and orchestra because of the chorus and the fact that our Musical Director, Patrick Milne, is conducting players from The Alba Orchestra, which he founded last year. There are a lot of people to co-ordinate!

How did you get into operatic/music-related producing?

I first got into opera and theatre production when I assistant stage-managed Die Fledermaus in 2012. However, I decided I'd much prefer to work on the producing side of shows (this probably stems from my control-freak tendencies!) So I went on to assistant produce the 2013 Mainshow, and this year I'm producing it – it's been a really exciting learning process.

Where did your interest in opera come from?

It was really quite natural as I'd been brought up playing classical music – I started playing piano at the age of 4, as there was a piano in the house. I wasn't really into opera though – I preferred light piano works, like Debussy and Ravel. Then at school I was a member of the chamber orchestra and we performed works such as Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. But it wasn't until I arrived in Cambridge that I really started to participate in developing and producing my own shows.

Why is opera production important to you?

The best thing about producing is hearing people tell you how much they've enjoyed your show. This is especially the case when you manage to reach out to Cambridge residents and schools rather than the usual net of university students. And when a show is popular, it allows us to break down some of the conventions associated with the genre. Conveying the fact that opera is actually a really exciting form of theatre, not just a fuddy-duddy evening out in white tie, is really important. We really want to dispel some of these myths with Don Giovanni.

Do you feel that opera is sufficiently represented in Cambridge more widely?

This academic year has actually been a great one for opera. We had Mozart's The Magic Flute at the ADC last year, which sold out completely, and then this term we've had Rhiannon Randle's Temptations, Adam Cigman-Mark's Footnotes, and Britten's Curlew River. In Cambridge itself we are spoilt for choice where it comes to opera – let's hope that continues!

What do you hope people will take away from the production of Don Giovanni?

I hope that people who are familiar with Don Giovanni and classical music in general will leave the concert hall feeling that we've done justice to such a seminal Mozart work, and that those who perhaps haven't come across it before are encouraged to listen to and attend more opera!

Don Giovanni will be on at West Road Concert Hall from 20-22 February at 8pm (2pm matinee on Saturday). Tickets are £7-14 for students and can be purchased at adcticketing.com or here .