The Stanford Light Opera Company (SLOCo) is Stanford’s premier light opera theatre company, tracing its history back to the original Stanford Savoyards, a Gilbert and Sullivan performance society founded in 1973. SLOCo maintains a strong presence in the student theater community with its own student-run mainstage productions, coupled with a renewed mission in fostering student communities passionate about operatic performance, musicianship, and technical theatre. SLOCo aims to produce quality light opera for the Stanford community and leverage its diverse backgrounds and talents to collaborate with other student theatre groups and ignite interest in opera and theatre.
SLOCo traces its history to the Stanford Savoyards, originally founded in 1973. The name Savoyards stemmed from the group’s interest in performing the Savoy operas, a style of comic operas most successfully popularized by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The Savoyards’ very first show was a sold-out production of The Pirates of Penzance in Dinkelspiel Auditorium, financed by a six-hundred dollar grant from the Dean of Students office. The policemen’s chorus wore uniforms borrowed from the Stanford Police Department. Ticket prices were two dollars for adults and one dollar for students.
From that first success, the Savoyards grew to perform one to two Savoy operas a year and were recognized in the theatre community as the Savs. Emphasizing “learning by doing,” innovation, imagination, and strong community outreach, the Savs produced fresh new interpretations of old GIlbert-and-Sullivan works, including a staging of Iolanthe (1974) that referenced the Watergate hearings, a production of The Sorcerer (2006) set in India with Bollywood-style costumes and dances, and HMS Pinafore: The Next Generation (2003), which cheekily replaced the nautical backdrop with the final frontier of space as seen from the bridge of the USS Enterprise.
As the Savoyards, we have produced all thirteen Savoy operas at least once and have also collaborated with other groups, such as The Zoo, and Cox and Box, and the Stanford Department of Music to produce other, non-Gilbert-and-Sullivan, operatic works. This reached a head in our 2015-16 season, when we collaborated with the Stanford Department of Music to produce Candide and Trouble in Tahiti, two operettas by Leonard Bernstein, and Don Giovanni, a revolutionary interactive performance tracing the paths of Mozart’s dark comic opera through the woods surrounding the Stanford Mausoleum. People were hooked. There was a renewed enthusiasm in operatic performance and production, and we looked at ourselves and decided to meet that with our own enthusiasm, talent, and dedication.
So, in 2016 we announced a rebranding of our name and mission: we are the Stanford Light Opera Company, and we are newly committed to supporting singers, instrumentalists, theater lovers, and opera enthusiasts in producing a broad range of operatic and lyric theatre works with and for the Stanford community. Our level of non-student community involvement is unique in the Stanford student theater world. The legacy of the Savoyards still runs through us, and we are just as eager and passionate in making beautiful theatre.