Opera Scotland

Traviata 1979Kent Opera

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The 1979 Festival featured operas from two British companies. Kent Opera made their only visit, following their successful incursion to Stirling with Orfeo. Scottish Opera produced their first staging of Eugene Onegin, as well as revivals of two of their very best productions, The Golden Cockerel and The Turn of the Screw.

With its track record of innovative productions, Kent Opera thoroughly deserved its invitation to perform in Edinburgh, even if some purists did complain about them performing a standard work like Traviata in English. Since their other Festival contribution, Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, was less often performed in Scotland the complaint was perhaps less valid in that case.

However, while the Gluck was almost entirely successful, the Verdi encountered problems. Jonathan Miller's new staging was, as always, meticulously worked out, and he had coached his heroine carefully to indicate realistic symptoms of TB. Sadly, by opening night, Jill Gomez, singing Violetta for the first time, was suffering from a dreadful cold, and the start was delayed. It did at last go ahead, and she gave a superbly-acted performance. However the sense of unease lasted throughout the evening.

Roger Norrington's interpretation was vigorous and dramatic, with an excellent supporting cast, notably Keith Lewis, Thomas Hemsley and William Shimell. Bernard Culshaw's designs were very different from his Scottish staging a decade earlier - much emphasis on shades of brown - almost sepia-tinted, and creating a strong sense of atmosphere.

Performance DatesTraviata 1979

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King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

21 Aug, 19.30 23 Aug, 19.30 25 Aug, 19.30 27 Aug, 19.30

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