Born in Pressburg (now Bratislava) to a Scottish family that returned to Scotland on the outbreak of WWI Viola Tait wrote, “We were neither rich nor poor, but my mother liked to think we were genteel.”
It didn’t stop Viola planning a musical career, and after studying at the Scottish National Academy of Music, she parlayed a lucky break into first, the Carl Rosa Opera Company, then D’Oyly Carte. In 1939 she was invited to Australia and the Australian Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. Viola was dubious and wrote, “Certainly no one went to Australia just by chance. It was not on the way to anywhere and seemed like the end of the world to most people.”
Also, WW2 had just been declared. Reluctantly, Viola boarded a liner that zig-zagged to avoid U-Boats and changed her life. In Melbourne she not only made a success of her career but also met Frank Tait. He was the youngest of the five Tait brothers otherwise, J C Williamson, theatre entrepreneurs. He was a widower and considerably older; they fell in love and married (at Surfers!).
From early childhood Viola had a sharp eye for her surroundings,...