Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
Thomson Smillie, former head of Wexford Festival Opera and Kentucky Opera, has died, aged 71. Full obituary here.
Many of the older generation of artists and administrators will recall that Thomson was the Head of Press and Marketing at Scottish Opera during its heyday in the late ’60s and early ’70s. As David Pountney says in the company’s 50th anniversary publication, “The deepest well of laughter was undoubtedly Thomson Smillie . . . whose infectious humour rippled throughout the Company. Thomson was born to communicate . . . and if he didn’t have a story to tell, he would invent one, except there were plenty of stories. The Ring with David Ward and Helga Dernesch, The Trojans with Janet Baker and Ronald Dowd, Otello with Kiri Te Kanawa and Charles Craig. These were big stories, and Thomson told them with flair and humour.”
I recall one dinner with him in one of Glasgow’s better restaurants of the time. After tasting the wine presented by a rather pompous waiter, he quipped, “Ah! A very serious little wine – but with a hint of cheekiness!”
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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