Opera Scotland

Traviata 1958Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Traviata

For the first, indeed the only time, Sadler’s Wells took an identical repertoire for a week in each of the four Scottish cities.

As well as Traviata and Bohème there were two performances of Figaro and three of Merry Widow.  All four of the operas (though not all performances) were conducted by Alexander Gibson.

This Traviata production, originally mounted by Joan Cross in 1950, had been performed dozens of times in London and on tour.

In this cast, there are four Scottish singers, William McAlpine, David Ward, Harold Blackburn and Joan Clarkson, who would all appear later with Scottish Opera, as would Peter Glossop.


Dundee Press Comment

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Saturday, May 10  1958

Outstanding performances in “La Traviata”

'Sadler's Wells Opera, towards the end of their week at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee, moved, after Lehár operetta and Mozart classicism, into the field of dramatic Italian opera last night with La Traviata.  The fact that there was a full house was possibly in part due to the knowledge that Victoria Elliott, the company's leading dramatic soprano, was to sing Violetta, in which role she made a great success here last year.

'If anything, her triumph was even more complete last night.  She had the audience figuratively eating out of her hand throughout this long and exhausting part. Three particular periods stood out in her performance - the 15-minute long aria sequence in Act I beginning 'Ah, was it he my heart foretold?' the big renunciation scene in Act II; and Violetta's final illness and death.  It would be difficult to imagine a more expert performance than she gave - subtle, moving psychologically, intensely dramatic and tender, skilled in coloratura, and displaying fine volume on high notes. Verdi demanded everything from his heroine in the singing and acting arts.  As rarely it was all supplied here.

'Traviata has just two other star parts - the two Germonts father and son. Again we had William McAlpine, the tenor from Stenhousemuir, showing the beauties of his voice in the Italianate style, as Armand. This was another superb performance, both full-toned and lyrical. The elder Germont this time was Peter Glossop, whose baritone was satisfyingly rich. He also had an ability to vary the tone colours of the music which enhanced a part that otherwise can be rather dull.

'Settings, the chorus singing (though few chances for them) and the orchestral playing were of the usual Wells high standard. And Verdi's inimitable trademarks - high divided strings to usher in dramatic suspense, a sudden burst of full orchestra followed by an outpouring of lyrical melody - all these were produced with maximum effect under the baton of Alexander Gibson'

Casts shown are from programmes for Edinburgh (NLS) and Dundee.


Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1958

The four operas performed in each city were Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Verdi (La traviata);  Lehár (Merry Widow);  Puccini (La bohème).

The tour visited Edinburgh (King's Theatre);  Dundee (Gaumont Theatre);  Aberdeen (His Majesty's Theatre; and Glasgow (King's Theatre).

The performance schedule was as follows:

Edinburgh, w/c 28 Apr:  Mon 28 Merry Widow;  Tue 29 Traviata;  Wed 30 Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 1 May Merry Widow;  Fri 2 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 3 m Merry Widow;  Sat 3 e Bohème.

Dundee, w/c 5 May:  Mon 5 May; Merry Widow;  Tue 6 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 7 Merry Widowe   Thu 8  Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 9 Traviata;  Sat 10 m Merry Widow;  Sat 10 e Bohème.

Aberdeen, w/c 12 May:  Mon 12 Merry Widow;  Tue 13 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 14 Merry Widow;  Thu 15 Traviata;  Fri 16 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 17 m Merry Widow;  Sat 17 e Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 19 May:  Mon 19 Merry Widow;  Tue 20 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 21 Merry Widow;  Thu 22 Traviata;  Fri 23  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 24 m Merry Widow;  Sat 24 e Bohème. 

Performance Cast

Violetta Valéry a courtesan

Elizabeth Fretwell (Apr 29)

Victoria Elliott (May 9)

Baron Douphol Violetta's protector, a rival of Alfredo

John Probyn (Apr 29; May 9)

Doctor Grenvil

David Ward (Apr 29)

Harold Blackburn (May 9)

Flora Bervoix Violetta's friend

Joyce Blackham (Apr 29; May 9)

Marquis d' Obigny

Kenneth Fawcett (Apr 29; May 9)

Gaston Vicomte de Letorières, a man about town

Gwent Lewis (Apr 29; May 9)

Alfredo Germont Gaston's friend

William McAlpine (Apr 29; May 9)

Annina Violetta's maid

Joan Clarkson (Apr 29; May 9)

Giuseppe Violetta's servant

John Larsen (Apr 29)

Gomer Morris (May 9)

Giorgio Germont Alfredo's father

Frederick Sharp (Apr 29)

Peter Glossop (May 9)


Angela Wheeldon (Apr 29; May 9)


Sophia Trant (Apr 29; May 9)

Dawn Keeler (Apr 29; May 9)

Philippe Perrottet (Apr 29; May 9)

Performance DatesTraviata 1958

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 Apr, 19.00

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

9 May, 19.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

15 May, 19.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 May, 19.00

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