Tributes to Scottish opera stalwart Lady Veronica Gibson
Lady Veronica Gibson, chairman of Scottish Opera for the past few years, died last week aged 85.
She has been a constant presence within Scotish Opera – which has honored her as a ‘beloved figure in the Scottish cultural landscape for six decades’, since its inception in 1962, when it was founded by her late husband , Sir Alexander Gibson.
In its early days, it hosted singers, made costumes and provided props for its productions.
She continued her involvement after the death of her husband, a longtime music director at Scottish Opera, in 1995, and was appointed chairwoman at the end of the 50th anniversary season. His time in the role coincided with a multi-million dollar project to renovate and expand the Theater Royal, which was acquired from STV in 1975.
Born to a Scottish mother and an English father in London, Lady Gibson learned ballet at an early age and embarked on a career in opera, ballet and panto productions. She met Motherwell-born bandleader Alexander Gibson in 1958 while performing in The Merry Widow at Sadler’s Wells, where she was musical director.
He became the principal conductor and artistic director of the Scottish National Orchestra, but took advantage of the gaps in his schedule to create Scotland’s first professional opera company, which started in 1962 with a production of Madama Butterfly at the King’s Theater.
In a 2012 interview, Lady Gibson recalled: “There was enormous excitement, but also apprehension that people were paying to come and see us.
“The interest from around the world was phenomenal and quite terrifying.”
Alex Reedjik, Managing Director of Scottish Opera, said: “Lady Gibson, or V – as she was known to all her friends – was a beloved part of the Scottish cultural landscape for six decades and played a key role behind the scenes Scottish Opera stage development.
“Lady Gibson often told me stories of early Scottish opera. She was a huge support for Sir Alex, hosting singers in the family home, volunteering as a costume designer and helping find props.
“During the recent refurbishment of the Theater Royal, Lady Gibson contributed many interviews and memorabilia to its archive material.
“Lady Gibson is remembered very fondly, not least for her unique warmth and affection.
“She always had a serene and graceful smile, leaving time for everyone.”
Scottish critic Ken Walton said: ‘She played an extremely important role in supporting her late husband’s international career as a conductor.
“She was the stabilizing force that sustained the family home in Glasgow, providing Sir Alex with the perfect environment in which to escape, relax, reflect and plan game-changing projects such as his long and legendary leadership of the Scottish National Orchestra and the Creation of Scottish Opera.
“But she was truly her own woman, always visible among concert audiences, a pleasure to chat with, influential and persuasive in her support of wider artistic endeavours, and particularly proud to act as a distinguished godmother to the ambitious fundraiser. , following the death of her husband, to establish the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland.