Opera Scotland

Gentle Shepherd The Gentle Shepherd


Allan Ramsay (born Leadhills 15 October 1686; died Edinburgh 7 January 1758.


Allan Ramsay.


Comedy (1725) in Scots vernacular by Ramsay, to which he added songs using popular folk-melodies.



First performance: Edinburgh (Taylor's Hall), 29 January 1729.



Ramsay expanded his 5-act pastoral comedy The Gentle Shepherd by adding more ballads (increased from four to 21) in which he combined his own Scots lyrics with existing popular folk melodies. This was done under the influence of the success of The Beggar's Opera.  It is believed that the performers were pupils of the Haddington Grammar School (who had earlier performed Gay's piece).

A version was given in London (Drury Lane) on 1 May 1730.  Under the title Patie and Peggie, or The Fair Foundling, it was adapted by Theophilus Cibber, reduced to one act, with prologue and epilogue.

According to Loewenberg's Annals of Opera, the first professional production in Scotland was at the Canongate Theatre, Edinburgh, on 29 April 1758.  From then on it was revived frequently in Scotland, in productions by amateurs and professionals.

A second London staging was also at Drury Lane, 29 October 1781. The new English adaptation was by Richard Tickell, with additional music by Thomas Linley.

Performances elsewhere include Dublin 1758, Montego Bay (Jamaica) 1784, New York 1786, Philadelphia 1791.  Later performonces were given in a number of different versions.

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha