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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day


Sir Alexander Gibson

By Eddie Friel

Sir Alexander Gibson Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995) was born in Motherwell. He studied at the University of Glasgow and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He was appointed Sadler's Wells youngest Music Director in 1957 where he conducted a total of twenty-six operas and he made his Covent Garden debut in the same year conducting Puccini's Tosca.

Theatre Royal He returned to Scotland in 1959 to become the principal conductor of the Glasgow-based Scottish National Orchestra. He founded Scottish Opera in 1962. The first season opened at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, with Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Debussy's Pelleas and Melisande. The following years saw a period of remarkable growth and artistic achievement. Among the highlights were a famous run of Cosi fan tutte (1967 with Janet Baker and Elizabeth Harwood), the first complete performance of Les Troyens (1969), Wagner's first complete Ring Cycle outside London in fifty years (1971), Tristan und Isolde (1973), and Die Meistersinger (1976).

In 1975 Scottish Opera moved to its permanent home, the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, and Sir Alex continued as Music Director until 1987 when he became the company's first Conductor Laureate. He returned many times as Guest Conductor until his death in 1995.

His many awards include the Sibelius Medal in 1978, honorary doctorates from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle, Stirling, York and the Open Universities. He was made CBE in 1967 and knighted in 1977. In December 1998, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, opened the Alexander Gibson Opera School in his memory.

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