Words by F.M. Piave after A. Dumas and Music by Guiseppe Verdi
Nuffield Theatre,
June 1997
Director: Sue Barber
Cast List
Giorgio Germont
Violetta Valery
Marquis D'Obigny
Baron Duphol
Servant to Flora
Flora Bervoix
Doctor Grenville
Alfredo Germont

Notes on this performance

87. La Traviata 

SOS tries opera…

A tricky problem for any operatic society is that, every now and then, someone will insist that it performs a serious opera - if only to justify its name. When this happens, the members who are G&S fanatics tend to disappear but, with luck, are replaced by some vocally strong new members (who seldom stay beyond that show). Audiences can also be fickle: the usual supporters are not always attracted to what is on offer but the serious followers of opera rarely deign to watch amateurs perform in English and this usually results in a poor financial result (Carmen being the exception to this rule).

With the recent musical input of Robert Venn and the influence of some ‘real opera’ enthusiasts on the Committee, there had been pressure to perform one for quite a while and the choice was between The Magic Flute, Carmen and Traviata. The Nuffield vetoed the first as it had been performed there fairly recently and as Carmen would have required a long rehearsal period, Verdi’s work was chosen by default.

 The Society was pleased to welcome Susan Barber (who had appeared on LOpSoc’s first ever show) as its latest Director, she came with an impressive reputation, having recently won four NODA Awards for her productions, and she did not disappoint. Philip Johnson (who had earned many awards himself) returned as MD. Tony Reid, who was now singing with WOS, came to the rescue when it was realised that Richard Wilkin’s wife might be going into labour during show week as he agreed to learn the part of Alfredo and deputise if necessary.

Sue and Philip obviously did an outstanding job and the Echo reported, ‘Southampton Operatic Society has pulled out the stops with its colourful and good-looking production of La Traviata, directed by Susan Barber and conducted by Philip Johnson. It was scaled to the size of the theatre so the dramatic action showed through clearly.

The society is to be congratulated on the skill with which it selects cast and uses its resources. The costumes were beautiful and there was always a strong sense of period. Obviously the opera hinges on the choice of its consumptive heroine: Janet Green gave a most touching performance of style and vocal bravura, very convincingly supported by her Alfredo, Richard Wilkin, whose incisive tenor carries with clarity.

Unusually striking were minor roles – Heather Walford as Fiona and Sandra Pettyfer as Violetta’s maid. Peter Barber cut a fine figure as Alfredo’s pompous father whose attitude brings about the tragedy. The chorus sang lustily and moved well. Altogether a production to be seen and enjoyed.’

La Traviata did make a loss, but it was a comparatively small one (£423) which, under the circumstances, would have pleased the Committee - though they might have been frustrated at having to pay £856 in royalties.

Terry O'Farrell

 Photo of Ball

Richard Wilkin (Alfredo Germont), Aidan Lawrence (Baron Duphol), Paul Webb (Doctor Grenville), Janet Green (Violetta Valery)

Photo of Drawing Room

Peter Barber (Giorgio Germont) and Janet Green (Violetta Valery)

Photo of Bedroom

Richard Wilkin (Alfredo Vermont),  Janet Green (Violetta Valery), Sandra Pettyfer (Annina)