Actors, Singers and Musical Personalities ~ Isaac Pocock 1782 – 1835

1.   Rob Roy

Isaac Innes Pocock 1782 – 1835

1.   Rob Roy MacGregor : or, Auld Lang Syne; an operatic play, in three acts, by Pocock, I. (Isaac), 1782-1835,Davy, John, 1763-1824, Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832. Rob Roy, is a replication of a book originally published before 1810.

Pocock's first piece was a musical farce in two acts, entitled ‘Yes or No.’ It was produced at the Haymarket in August, 1808, and acted ten times. Genest calls it a poor piece, but Oulton says it had some effective broad humour   It was followed by numerous similar productions.

Of his musical farces, ‘Hit or Miss,’ with music by C. Smith, first given at the Lyceum in February, 1810, was by far the most successful, being acted ‘at least thirty-three times’ . A fourth edition of the printed work appeared in 1811. It is printed in Dibdin's ‘London Theatre,’ as well as in Cumberland's ‘British Theatre.’ According to the ‘Dramatic Censor,’ it produced ‘on an average 100 guineas at half-price on every evening that it is given.’ Its success was chiefly due to the playing of Mathews as Dick Cypher .

In 1815 Mathews rendered like service to Pocock's ‘Mr. Farce-Writer’ at Covent Garden. The piece was not printed. ‘Twenty Years Ago,’ a melodramatic entertainment, was given at the Lyceum in 1810. ‘Anything New,’ with overture and music by C. Smith, given in July 1811, had some lively dialogue; but the ‘Green-eyed Monster,’ produced in 14 October. with Dowton, Oxberry, and Miss Mellon in the cast, was denounced by the ‘Dramatic Censor’ ‘as a last experiment which should be quite final to Mr. Pocock.’ It was, however, revived at Drury Lane in 1828, when William Farren and Ellen Tree acted in it. The music was composed by T. Welsh.

A burletta, called ‘Harry Le Roy,’ by Pocock, was also given in 1811. Pocock's ‘Miller and his Men,’ a very popular melodrama, with music by Bishop, which attained a second edition in 1813, was still played in 1835. ‘For England Ho!’ a melodramatic opera, was produced at Covent Garden in December, 1813, and acted ‘about eleven times,’  According to Genest, this piece ‘considerable merit’ . ‘John of Paris,’ a comic opera adapted from the French, was produced at Covent Garden on 12 Oct. 1814, and acted seventeen times. Liston played an innkeeper. When revived at the Haymarket in 1826, Madame Vestris was in the cast. It was again played at Covent Garden in 1835. ‘Zembuca, or the Net-maker,’ first given at Covent Garden, as ‘a holiday piece,’ in March 1815, and was played twenty-eight times. The ‘Maid and the Magpie,’ a drama in three acts, a second edition of which appeared in 1816, was adapted from the French of L. C. Caigniez and J. M. Baudouin. It was first printed in 1814. ‘Robinson Crusoe, or the Bold Buccaneers,’ a romantic drama in two acts, was produced as an Easter piece at Covent Garden in 1817 . Published, with ‘remarks,’ by George Daniel, it was revived in 1826.

Pocock subsequently aimed at a higher species of composition, and converted some of the Waverley novels into operatic dramas.  In March 1818 his ‘Rob Roy Macgregor, or Auld Lang Syne,’ an operatic drama in three acts, was first played at Covent Garden. Macready took the title-rôle, ‘which first brought him into play’; Liston played Baillie Nicol Jarvie, and Miss Stephens Di Vernon. It was acted thirty-four times. It was played at Bath, for Farren's benefit, in April 1815, when Warde was very successful as Rob Roy. In the revival of the following year Farren took Liston's place as the Baillie. This play and Pocock's ‘John of Paris’ were given together at Bath on the occasion of Warde's farewell to the stage, in June 1820.

Wallack played in ‘Rob Roy’ at Drury Lane in January 1826; and Madame Vestris impersonated Di Vernon at the Haymarket in October 1824. The play was published in 1818.  ‘Montrose, or the Children of the Mist,’ three acts, produced at Covent Garden in February 1822, was not so successful, though it was played nineteen or twenty times. ‘Woodstock,’ five acts, first acted in May 1826, was a comparative failure, though the cast included Charles Kemble and Farren. ‘Peveril of the Peak,’ three acts, produced in October of the same year, was acted nine times. ‘The Antiquary’ was also unsuccessful. ‘Home, Sweet Home, or the Ranz des Vaches,’ a musical entertainment, was produced at Covent Garden in March 1829, with Madame Vestris.

Besides the plays mentioned, Pocock wrote ‘The Heir of Veroni’ and ‘The Libertine,’ operas, 1817; ‘Husbands and Wives,’ a farce, 1817; ‘The Robber's Wife,’ a romantic drama in two acts, adapted from the German, 1829, with music by F. Ries; ‘The Corporal's Wedding,’ a farce, 1830; ‘The Omnibus,’ an interlude, 1831; ‘Country Quarters’ and ‘The Clutterbucks,’ farces, 1832; ‘Scan Mag,’ farce, 1833; ‘The Ferry and the Mill,’ melodrama, 1833; ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,’ a Christmas equestrian spectacle, 1834–5. ‘The Night Patrol,’ a farce, and ‘Cavaliers and Roundheads,’ an adaptation of ‘Old Mortality,’ were posthumous.

Of his 40 or so works, the most successful was Hit and Miss (1810), a musical farce.

[Text based on Berkshire History and other published material in the public domain.]

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2.  Theatre Royal

Rob Roy Macgregor: First Scottish Production

2.   Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, Glasgow.  Venue for the Scottish Premiere of Rob Roy or Auld Lang Syne.  Original image in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.  [This version of the image is in the public domain.]  

Although the fact is not generally known, Pocock's Rob Roy Macgregor was produced in Glasgow nine months previous to its Edinburgh performance. This was for the benefit of W. H. Murray, of the latter city, on June 10th, 1818. Murray played the Bailie to the Rob of Yates (the father of the late Edmund Yates). The event remained unnoticed by the local press, although the play enjoyed a run of four nights.

[Text based on The Story of the Scots Stage, by Robb Lawson (1919).]

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