Opera Scotland

Traviata 1989Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Traviata

After the success of her first attempt at directing opera, with Madama Butterfly, it was no surprise that Scottish Opera attempted to lure the star Spanish actor Nuria Espert back once more.  The company's third full-scale staging of Traviata benefited from beautifully detailed direction, equally superb designs by the already renownrd pairing of Ezio Frigerio and Franca Squarciapino.

The first scene of Act Two, in the country, showed an elegant and airy country villa - the second scene, on the terrace of Flora's richly luxurious mansion, was almost decadent, with black pillars and gold filigree work.  By contrast, the first and last acts showed the main room of Violetta's Paris house - her bed moved, for convenience and economy, to the now gloomy scene of her first act party, with large patches of unfaded wallpaper where the sold-off art treasures had been on prominent display earlier on.

John Mauceri had already shown with Otello and Aïda that he had a wonderfully distinctive way with Verdi.  There was no shortage of excitement, but he drew a subtle, refined sound from the pit.

The cast was led by a trio of Americans who were also very successful, particularly Nancy Gustafson's confidently sung, dramatically vulnerable Violetta.  Jorge Pita made a youthfully gauche Alfredo with James Dietsch a domineering father.

With many Traviatas the men in the party scenes are practically indistinguishable, but here they were neatly differentiated.   Jason Howard's Baron stood out as the required strong rival to Alfredo.  He also sang Germont a couple of times (as scheduled) in Inverness and would take that part for a complete run on revival.  Jonathan Hawkins spent several seasons with the company, during which the doctor was just one of a series of neat cameos.

Clare Shearer and Carol Rowlands were both excellent, and well contrasted, as Flora and Annina.


We are very grateful to Nicholas Russell for providing us with some supplementary footnotes relating to this run of performances.

At the Glasgow evening on May 26, Nancy Gustafson was ill and Anne Williams-King, initally scheduled just to sing in Inverness, went on.

For the matinee on June 3, the cast was expected to perform as advertised, but James Dietsch (the Germont) had the performance time in his diary mistakenly as an evening show.  He took the opportunity to go out on the Saturday afternoon and therefore was not answering his landline phone.  With Germont absent in Act I, and still no sign of Mr Dietsch at first interval, Jason Howard (who had already sung the Baron in Act I) went on as Germont for Act II Scene 1.  He then returned as the Baron at the beginning of Act II Scene 2.  He then re-emerged for Germont’s appearance towards the end of the act.  In order for the idea of a duel to be established at the end of II Scene 2 (as should have happened with the Baron), Alan Watt, as the Marquis, stepped up and challenged Alfredo.  Jason Howard completed the performance as Germont in Act III.  He also sang his scheduled nights in Inverness.

For the Inverness performance on June 30, Prince Andrew was in attendance.  As you indicate Anne Williams-King was scheduled to sing Violetta in Inverness.  She was throaty and a little sick at the top of the show but soldiered on, until she was almost completely voiceless in the last act and more-or-less ‘sprech-ing’ the role.  It was a very realistic take on the dying consumptive.  Prince Andrew bought her a brandy at the bar on his way backstage at the end of the show and offered it to her.


Scottish Opera's Season - 1988/89

The programme for the 1988-89 season of Scottish Opera opened with Midsummer Marriage. The other new productions were FledermausRheingoldDon GiovanniOedipus RexTraviata and Street Scene. The revivals were Magic FluteIolanthe, and Bohème, In the autumn the previous season's Richard Jones Così fan tutte, redirected by Tim Hopkins, went out on the medium-scale tour. There was also a small-scale, piano-accompanied tour of Don Carlos, so far Scottish Opera's only attempt at this work.

Performance Cast

Violetta Valéry a courtesan

Nancy Gustafson (Exc May 26; Jun 28, 30)

Anne Williams-King (May 26; Jun 28, 30)

Baron Douphol Violetta's protector, a rival of Alfredo

Jason Howard (Exc Jun 28, 30)

Winton Thomson (Jun 28, 30)

Doctor Grenvil

Jonathan Hawkins

Flora Bervoix Violetta's friend

Clare Shearer

Marquis d' Obigny

Alan Watt

Gaston Vicomte de Letorières, a man about town

Huw Priday

Alfredo Germont Gaston's friend

Jorge Antonio Pita

Annina Violetta's maid

Carol Rowlands

Giuseppe Violetta's servant

Malcolm Aitken

Giorgio Germont Alfredo's father

James Dietsch (Exc Jun 3 m, 28, 30)

Jason Howard (Jun 3 m, 28, 30)

Commissar in Flora's household

Paul Anwyl

Servant in Flora's household

Graeme Danby


Gabriel Hereda

Performance DatesTraviata 1989

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

25 Apr, 19.15 29 Apr, 19.15 5 May, 19.15 26 May, 19.15 3 Jun, 14.15

Empire Theatre, Liverpool | Liverpool

6 Jun, 19.15 10 Jun, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

13 Jun, 19.15 17 Jun, 19.15

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

20 Jun, 19.15 24 Jun, 19.15 24 Jun, 19.15

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

28 Jun, 19.15 30 Jun, 19.15

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