Selected 19th Century Plays, Opera and Burlettas performed in Ayrshire


Rob Roy

Robert 'Rob Roy' MacGregor (1671-1734) was a highland cattle-drover and outlaw, immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his novel 'Rob Roy'.   He had prolonged disputes with the Dukes of Montrose and Athol, and was present at the Battle of Sheriffmuir although he took no part in it. He took his mother's name, Campbell, when the MacGregor surname was proscribed. Despite his lawless existence and the difficult times that he lived through he died peacefully of old age at home in Balquhidder.

It was under Murray, in 1819, that the astonishing success of the stage adaptation of Scott's 'Rob Roy' made the Edinburgh Theatre Royal relatively rich. With Charles ('the real') Mackay playing Bailie Nicol Jarvie, this good-humoured adaptation saw Scotland starting to come to terms with its history of civil war and social division.

Rob Roy Macgregor: Or, Auld Lang Syne! A Musical Drama, in Three Acts was written by Isaac Pocock in 1818. Founded on the popular novel by Sir Walter Scott, it was first Performed at the Theatre-Royal, Convent-Garden with Macready in the title role.  Sinclair, the Scottish tenor, appeared as Francis Osbaldiston.  Terry arranged the piece for the stage , composing the music for the glees and the words and music for the chorus.  The piece was so successful that the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, performed their own adaptation, without great success.

The main role in the piece was Bailie Nicol Jarvie and it was not until the play came to the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh was the full dimensions of this uniquely Scottish character realised in the hands of Mackay, at that time a young and relatively in experienced character.  But he, unlike most of the Edinburgh company, was Scottish born and bred; he was ideally suited to the role that had been taken by William Murray during the rehearsals.

Rob Roy was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, in 1819 and had a run of 41 performances during that first season.  

It was under Murray, in 1819, that the astonishing success of the stage adaptation of Scott's Rob Roy made the theatre relatively rich. With Charles ('the real') Mackay playing Bailie Nicol Jarvie, this good-humoured adaptation saw Scotland starting to come to terms with its history of civil war and social division. When George IV visited Edinburgh in 1822, he ordered a performance of Rob Roy at the Theatre Royal on August 27, 1822. It was a triumphant success and placed the Theatre Royal at the centre of the Scottish cultural revival.

A full version of the text is available on line

[Text based on material published by the National Library of Scotland and the Glasgow version of the original playscript.]

Rob Roy
Engraving of Rob Roy Macgregor ca 1820. [Image in the public domain.]
Macready
William Charles Macready (1793-1873) as Rob Roy MacGregor, hand-coloured etching, London, England, 1818.  Original in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. [This image in the public domain.]

Guy Manneringuy Mannering was advertised as in the press on 21 December 1814, only two days after Scott had finished writing the notes to The Lord of the Isles. Scott appears to have written Guy Mannering in little more than six weeks, beginning late December 1814 and completing it by mid-February 1815. So rapid was its composition that novel and poem were effectively published and promoted in tandem, providing Scott with a unique opportunity to compare the selling power of verse and fiction. The latter proved conspicuously more lucrative. When Guy Mannering was published on February 24, 1815, the Edinburgh share of the first edition sold out in less than a day. Two further editions were published in March and May, and the novel went through eleven editions in Scott's life-time. The title page attributed the novel to 'the author of Waverley', a phrase that would be used for all Scott's novels until he cast off his disguise in 1827. Back to top Sources Guy Mannering is located chiefly in Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland, in the late eighteenth century. Traditionally, Scott's chief source for the story been has identified as Joseph Train, a Galloway exciseman and amateur antiquarian, who initiated a correspondence with Scott in July 1814. According to Scott's first biographer, his son-in-law J. G. Lockhart, he had encouraged Train to supply him with Galloway traditions. Train had subsequently sent a collection of anecdotes on Galloway gypsies and the local story of an astrologer who, predicting the future of a newborn child, accurately warned of great dangers that would befall him on his twenty-first birthday. Both, in Lockhart's account (based on Train's own published recollections), worked their way into the novel. Peter D. Garside, however, editor of the recent Edinburgh Edition of Guy Mannering (1999), finds little evidence that Train supplied such information before the preparation of the Magnum Opus edition of the novel in 1829. Garside argues that a more plausible source was Scott's sister-in-law Elizabeth McCulloch Scott, a noted repository of Galloway lore. There are close parallels between the history of the Bertram family, as described in chapter 2 of Guy Mannering, and that of Elizabeth's family, the McCullochs of Ardwall, who long tolerated on their lands the gypsy 'king' Billy Marshall.

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Guy Mannering

First Edition, First Impression:

Guy Mannering; or The Astrologer. By the Author of "Waverley." In Three Volumes. Vol. I (II-III). Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. For Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London; and Archibald Constable and Co. Edinburgh 1815.

Composition | Sources | Synopsis | Reception | Links

Composition

No sooner had Scott completed the narrative poem The Lord of the Isles than he set to work on his second novel. Despite the success of Waverley, Scott was still in a hazardous financial situation, having narrowly avoided bankruptcy when John Ballantyne's publishing house had collapsed in 1813 (see Financial Hardship). In mid-October 1814 a distraint for debt was served on John's brother James, which threatened to expose Scott's position as secret partner in James's printing firm (see Ballantyne Brothers). Frustration with James's imprudence may have proven the immediate spur to secure a contract with Longmans of London for a sequel to Waverley.

Engraving by H. Selig after C. Phillips depicting the actor Mr. Braham in the role of Harry Bertram, 1820 (Corson P.7362)

Guy Mannering was advertised as in the press on 21 December 1814, only two days after Scott had finished writing the notes to The Lord of the Isles. Scott appears to have written Guy Mannering in little more than six weeks, beginning late December 1814 and completing it by mid-February 1815. So rapid was its composition that novel and poem were effectively published and promoted in tandem, providing Scott with a unique opportunity to compare the selling power of verse and fiction. The latter proved conspicuously more lucrative. When Guy Mannering was published on February 24, 1815, the Edinburgh share of the first edition sold out in less than a day. Two further editions were published in March and May, and the novel went through eleven editions in Scott's life-time. The title page attributed the novel to 'the author of Waverley', a phrase that would be used for all Scott's novels until he cast off his disguise in 1827.

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Sources

Guy Mannering is located chiefly in Galloway, in the south-west of Scotland, in the late eighteenth century. Traditionally, Scott's chief source for the story been has identified as Joseph Train, a Galloway exciseman and amateur antiquarian, who initiated a correspondence with Scott in July 1814. According to Scott's first biographer, his son-in-law J. G. Lockhart, he had encouraged Train to supply him with Galloway traditions. Train had subsequently sent a collection of anecdotes on Galloway gypsies and the local story of an astrologer who, predicting the future of a newborn child, accurately warned of great dangers that would befall him on his twenty-first birthday. Both, in Lockhart's account (based on Train's own published recollections), worked their way into the novel. Peter D. Garside, however, editor of the recent Edinburgh Edition of Guy Mannering (1999), finds little evidence that Train supplied such information before the preparation of the Magnum Opus edition of the novel in 1829. Garside argues that a more plausible source was Scott's sister-in-law Elizabeth McCulloch Scott, a noted repository of Galloway lore. There are close parallels between the history of the Bertram family, as described in chapter 2 of Guy Mannering, and that of Elizabeth's family, the McCullochs of Ardwall, who long tolerated on their lands the gypsy 'king' Billy Marshall.

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Guy Mannering, engraved by Lumb Stocks after John Faed (Corson P.1832)

Synopsis

The hero, Harry Bertram, son of the Laird of Ellangowan, is kidnapped as a boy by the smuggler Dirk Hatteraick and carried off to Holland. Hatteraick is acting in league with the Bertrams' lawyer, Gilbert Glossin, who hopes to acquire the family property in the absence of a male heir. Adopted by a Dutch merchant, Bertram is kept in ignorance of his true identity and brought up under the name Vanbeest Brown. Upon reaching adulthood, he travels to India and enlists in the army under Colonel Guy Mannering. Mannering, an enthusiastic amateur astrologer, has in a previous guise visited the Bertrams' castle of Ellangowan, and predicted the newborn Harry's future. Bertram falls in love with Mannering's daughter, Julia, but Mannering imagines that the attentions paid to his daughter are intended for his wife. He challenges Bertram to a duel, seriously wounds him, and leaves him for dead. On recovery, Bertram finds that Julia has returned to Britain. In disguise, he follows her to the neighbourhood of Ellangowan. Glossin, now sole owner of Ellangowan, detects his true identity, and again plots with Hatteraick to abduct him. However, Meg Merrilies, Bertram's gypsy nurse, recognizes him too, and with the help of Bertram and Dandie Dinmont (a Lowland farmer whom Bertram has rescued from footpads), attempts to thwart their scheme. This she succeeds in doing but at the expense of her own life. As a result of her efforts, Bertram is acknowledged, regains his estates, and marries Julia.

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Ellangowan Castle, engraving by Charles Heath after Peter De Wint, 1832 (Corson P.3472)

Reception

Guy Mannering was an immediate success with the reading public, the Edinburgh share of the first edition selling out within a day. Within three months the second and third impressions were similarly exhausted. The reviewers, though, harboured reservations. The British Critic felt that the genius shown in Waverley had already flickered out. The Critical Review and the Quarterly feared that the extensive use of Scots would prove incomprehensible to an English audience. The former complained too that it encouraged superstition, condoned duelling, and was irreverent in matters of religion. There was widespread praise, however, of the vividly portrayed minor characters, Dandie Dinmont and Meg Merrilies, the latter bringing comparisons with Shakespeare.

 


The Bohemian Girl

THE BOHEMIAN GIRL Opera in 3 acts. Music by Michael Balfe. Text by Alfred Bunn, based on a story by Cervantes as used in the ballet La Gypsy by Vernoy de Saint-Georges. First performance: London - Drury Lane - November 27, 1843. Revived Sadler's Wells (1932), Covent Garden Company in Liverpool 1951 and then at Covent Garden in a new version by Dennis Arundell. The lilting, memorable melodies and generally uncomplicated score pleased the opera-going public of the day. The opera was a success and created a craze for gypsy songs, novels and art. According to Kobbé's Complete Book of Opera, there are no subtleties in the libretto but the action of the piece is vigorous and as remote from everyday life as one could well imagine. The chief characters are either noblemen or gypsies - noblemen who have the power of life and death over people, and gypsies who may rob and cheat but also number amongst there companion beings as innocent and pure as the hero and heroines of the story. The action takes place at Presburg in Poland. Story: Act 1 Count Arnheim, loyal to the Austrian Empire, entertains certain guests at his castle, where they raise the National Standard above the Emperor's statue, the Count meanwhile extolling a soldier's life. The guests depart for the chase without him. His daughter, Arline, a child six years old, accompanying them with her nurse. Thaddeus, an exiled Polish rebel, enters seeking refuge, which he finds in the company of a tribe of passing gipsies, who disguise him by order of their leader, Devilshoof, just in time to escape his pursuers. The huntsmen, with Florestein, a foolish nephew of Count Arnheim, return in terror with the tidings that Arline is attacked by a stag; Thaddeus rushes to her assistance, and restores her unhurt to the Count, whose gratitude induces him to invite the apparent gipsy to join the feast of rejoicing. At this feast Arnheim proposes the Emperor's health, which is declined boldly by Thaddeus, whose life is in danger for this act, but he is protected by the Count; Devilshoof, however, who has shared the republican enthusiasm of Thaddeus, is arrested and confined in the castle. He escapes, and is seen by the distracted company bearing away in his arms Arline, whose abduction suggests his revenge. Act 2 Twelve years have been past in sorrow by the Count; the gipsies are stationed at Presburg ready for a fair, led still by Devilshoof, who catches and robs Florestein, an incautious intruder; the Gipsy Queen, however, commands the restoration of his property; Devilshoof obeys, but reserves a diamond medallion for himself. Arline, reared among the gipsies and tended gently by Thaddeus, wakes from a sleep, and relates a strange dream, which Thaddeus knows is retrospective. She asks the history of her birth, which he hesitates to relate fearing lest her love should leave him. The Gipsy Queen who also loves Thaddeus now irritates Arline into jealousy, whereupon Thaddeus implores her to marry him. Their betrothal is witnessed by the tribe, who now set out for the fair. Here Arline attracts hosts of admirers, amongst them Florestein, who recognises his medallion on Arline's neck, where it has been cunningly placed by the Gipsy Queen. In spite of Thaddeus and the tribe, she is seized and conveyed to the Count's castle. Here an accident reveals to the father that the prisoner is his child. Act 3 Thaddeus implores Arline in a secret interview not to desert him, but the Count spurns the supposed vagabond; when Thaddeus declares himself, and Arnheim is induced to give his daughter to the noble exile. At the feast in their honour, the Gipsy Queen with Devilshoof attempts Arline's life, but the gipsy diverts the shot which strikes her who aimed it. The festival proceeds to commemorate the happy fortunes of The Bohemian Girl. CHARACTERS Arline, daughter of the Count -Soprano Thaddeus, a proscribed Pole - Tenor Queen of the Gypsies - Alto Devilshoof, chief of the gypsies - Bass Count Arnheim, Governor of Presburg - Bass Florestein, his nephew - Tenor Captain of the Guard - Bass Officer - Tenor Buda, Arline's attendant - Soprano PRINCIPAL MUSICAL NUMBERS "'Tis Sad To Leave Your Fatherland" - Thaddeus "In the Gypsies Life You Lead" - Chorus "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls" - Arline "The Heart Bowed Down" - Thaddeus and Arline "When Other Lips and Other Hearts" - Thaddeus ACT I. OVERTURE INTRODUCTORY CHORUS .. .. .. "Up with the banner" AIR (THE COUNT) .. .. .. "A soldier's life" CHORUS OF HUNTERS " Away to the hill and glen" MELODRAMATIC MUSIC RECITATIVE AND AIR (THADDEUS) .. "Without friends" GIPSY CHORUS .. .. .. "In the gipsy's life you read" MARCH OF THE AUSTRIAN SOLDIERS DUET (THADDEUS & DEVILSHOOF) WITH CHORUS " Comrade, your hand” MELODRAMATIC MUSIC AIR (FLORESTEIN) .. .. .. .. " Is no succour near?" MELODRAMATIC MUSIC WALTZ CHORUS .. .. .. .. "Down with the daring slave" GALOP FINALE CHORUS .. .. .. .. "What sounds break on the ear!" PRAYER .. .. .. " Thou who in might supreme " CHORUS .. .. .. .. "Follow with heart and with arm" ACT II. INTRODUCTORY CHORUS .. .. .. " Silence!" THE DREAM .. .. .. .. " I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls" DUET (ARLINE AND THADDEUS) .. .. " The wound upon thine arm " RECITATIVE (ARLINE) AND CHORUS " Listen while I relate " / Happy and light of heart" CHORUS.. .. .. .. .. .. " In the gipsy's life" DUET (QUEEN AND DEVILSHOOF) .. .. " This is thy deed!" SONG (ARLINE) WITH CHORUS .. .. "In the gipsy's life" MARCH FAIR SCENE — CHORUS .. .. .. "Life itself is at the best" QUARTETT (ARLINE, QUEEN, THADDEUS, AND DEVILSHOOF) .. "From the valleys and hills" GIPSY MARCH CHORUS .. .. .. .. .. " Shame!" RECITATIVE AND AIR (COUNT) .. " Whate'er the scenes" / "The heart bow'd down" FINALE .. .... .. .. .. "Hold ! hold!" ACT III. INTRODUCTION MELODRAMATIC MUSIC AIR (THADDEUS) .. .. .. .. .. " When other lips" TRIO (ARLINE, THADDEUS, AND DEVILSHOOF) .. "Through the world" FINALE—CHORUS .. .. .. .. " Welcome the present!" QUINTETT (ARLINE, QUEEN, THADDEUS, COUNT, AND DEVILSHOOF) WITH CHORUS .. "Though ev'ry hope be fled" AIR (THADDEUS). .. .. .. .. " When the fair land of Poland " TRIO (ARLINE, THADDEUS, AND COUNT) .. " Let not the heart for sorrows grieve " FINAL AIR (ARLINE) AND CHORUS .. .. " Oh, what full delight " Additional Number AIR .. .. .. .. " Love smiles but to deceive" . .

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