Opera Scotland

Traviata 1917O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Traviata

While war was raging, the bigger touring companies, such as Beecham's, limited Scottish visits to the central belt. It was left to the tenor Joseph O'Mara to take his company further north. This spring tour only called at Aberdeen and Dundee, both of which he knew from his years with Moody-Manners in the Edwardian era. The Dundee repertoire included the traditionally popular Faust and Lily of Killarney on the Saturday - familiar and easy-going pieces that the band could be expected to sight-read their way through. The week had started with Butterfly and Tannhäuser. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday saw a demanding repertoire of unfamiliar works - Traviata, Tristan and Tosca. The Puccini was only beginning to make its way in the provinces, lagging far behind Butterfly in popularity, and Tristan was a great rarity. Aberdeen saw four of these (the Puccini and Wagner items), but missed out on Faust, Lily and Traviata, seeing Don Giovanni, Trovatore and Bo Girl instead.

Traviata had been given several times in the Victorian era, but always in Italian. Now it was in English, and it does seem that it had lost the shock value so evident in earlier decades. Perhaps the horrors of the war had helped audiences concentrate on essentials.

Cast details (extremely brief) are taken from the Dundee Advertiser and Dundee Courier & Argus, on Thursday 29 March.

 

Dundee Press Comment

Dundee Advertiser: Thursday, March 29, 1917

“La Traviata”

'On Monday and Tuesday the O'Mara Opera Company at Her Majesty's Theatre gave exceedingly acceptable performances of Madam Butterfly and Tannhäuser, and last night they added to their achievement an exceedingly fine rendering of Verdi's La Traviata.  Miss Jean Gibson as Violetta gave a remarkably artistic rendering of her part, displaying a voice brilliant in quality and acting of great distinction.  Verdi's melodious work provides the part of Violetta - which is by far the most important role in the play - with any amount of opportunity.

'Violetta exhibits the whole gamut of the emotions and demands essentially an actress of fine temperament.  In every respect Miss Jean Gibson proved herself a wonderful operatic star, especially in the “Sweetness and Sorrow” romance.   Mr Henry O'Dempsey played Alfred Germont with great strength, and added palpably to the favourable impression he created in Madam Butterfly.  Mr Flintoff Moore, as the elder Germont, acted with restraint throughout.  His singing in the second act was one of the finest things in the play. His perfect mellow voice and clear enunciation were rapturously applauded. The other parts were all admirably filled.'

 

Dundee Courier & Argus: Thursday, March 29, 1917     (p2)

“La Traviata”

'We doubt if Verdi's La Traviata has ever been performed in English in Dundee until last night. It is an opera of his early period, practically contemporaneous with Il Trovatore and Rigoletto, lighter perhaps than either, and certainly as tragic. The story La Dame aux Camélias is familiar to novel readers and theatre goers, and depicts a somewhat sordid side of human life, with sufficient gilt and glamour about it to make it attractive on stage. The end is pure tragedy; poor Violetta, after her life of frivolity and vice, sees honest love in front of her and dies.  It is very touching, and demands most delicate playing.

'Miss Jean Gibson, a Paisley young lady, we believe, sang the part of Violetta beautifully. The famous Aria, familiar to concert-goers as “Ah! Fors’è lui” was brilliantly sung, and Miss Gibson's part in the great duet which finishes the second act was sung with communicating power and intensity. Mr O'Dempsey's Alfred was an excellent performance, virile and strong and excellently sung. The famous Brindisi, “We'll drink to the beauty,” was splendidly given, and all through Mr O'Dempsey sang vigorously and artistically. Mr Flintoff Moore's George Germont - father of Alfred - was also a fine performance, and he sang the tuneful “From Provence” with appropriately touching feeling. The chorus had a good deal to do, and did it well, and the band was on its best behaviour.

'To-night the novelty of the week, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, will be presented for the first time in Dundee.  The cast includes Miss Lindsey as Isolde, Miss Dennis - that fine artiste - as Brangaena, Mr Boland as Tristan, and Mr William Anderson as King Mark.  We hope there will be a fine house.'

Performance Cast

Violetta Valéry a courtesan

Jean Gibson (Mar 28)

Alfredo Germont Gaston's friend

Henry O'Dempsey (Mar 28)

Giorgio Germont Alfredo's father

Flintoff Moore (Mar 28)

Performance DatesTraviata 1917

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

28 Mar, 19.15

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