Opera Scotland

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First performance of La traviata in Scotland

Posted 16 Sep 2012

This was on 20 February, 1857 at Glasgow's Theatre Royal in Dunlop Street.  The company was billed as the 'Grand Italian Opera Company', managed by Mr Beale and drawn from singers well-known in London and internationally.  It gave ten main atage performances split between Glasgow and Edinburgh in the course of a provincial tour.

The Glasgow Examiner (21 Feb) said of the first night "the house was again crowded in all parts.  The piece was La traviata, an opera which has created some noise in the world.  The chief interest in the piece centred on Madame Gassier, as Violetta Valery, in which character she displayed vocal abilities of the highest order; she possesses a voice of considerable compass, with great flexibility; Volpini, as Alfredo, displays his usual ability.  Lorini, as Germont, was also highly effective, and the piece altogether seemed to greatly interest the audience."

The Glasgow Courier (21 Feb) said "the story in morals is questionable, but the music in the first and  third acts is striking and effective; and the various parts were sustained with truthfulness and precision.  ...Madame Gassier has a thorough knowledge of the part and has evidently studied it with great care.  In the concluding act the audience was enwrapt with the pathos which Madame Gassier brought to bear in the dying scene.  Signor Volpini as Germont made a very favourable impression."

Flora was Madame Temple. The conductor, as was common in those days, was not named but a study of the advertisements reveals the names of three on tour - Signors Stanzieri, Li Calsi and Orsini.  No programmes. playbills or cast lists from these Scottish performances have survived. The illustration is from the 1853 world premiere at Venice (Teatro la Fenice).


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