Opera Scotland

Robin Hood

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George Macfarren (born London, 2 March 1813; died London, 31 October 1887)


John Oxenford


Popular legend



First performance: London (Her Majesty's Theatre), 11 October 1860.

First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal) 21 September 1877.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Sir George Macfarren was a highly respected composer and teacher, being director of the Royal Academy of Music for several years. He composed several operas, beginning with The Devil's Opera (1838). Robin Hood had a great success initially, starting with a cast that included some of the greatest British singers of the day. These included Sims Reeves as Robin and Helen Lemmens-Sherrington as Marian.


Main Characters

Robin Hood (tenor)

Sheriff of Nottingham (baritone)

Maid Marian, the Sheriff's daughter (soprano)

Hugo, the Sompnour, a tithe gatherer (bass)


Plot Summary

Robin, as his alter ego Locksley, is recognised as an accepted suitor for the hand of the Sheriff's daughter, though he must prove his marksmanship at the fair the following day. However, in his usual guise, he is an outlaw for whose arrest the Sheriff offers a reward. Allan flirts with Alice, but when it transpires that he is unable to pay the Sompnour the taxes that are due, he is only saved from a period in the stocks because Robin pays up on his behalf. In Sherwood Forest, Robin and his men plan their forthcoming robbery the Sompnour who is due to pass through the forest. All goes to plan, and, relieving him of his money, they release him. At the archery contest the next day the Sompnour denounces Locksley as Robin Hood, and he is arrested. Marian flees from her home to join the merry men in co-ordinating plans for Robin's escape. The Sheriff sends the Sompnour to obtain from the King a warrant for Robin's execution. In his dungeon cell Robin awaits death, but is encouraged by the sound of Marian with his men outside. As he is led out to execution, Marian and the men attempt to release him, but are overpowered. However the document from the king produced by the Sompnour turns out to be not an execution warrant, but a pardon, on condition that he and his men join the king's service. Robin and Marian are now able to marry.

The Cast

 Marian's attendant
 a young peasant
 the Sompnour (a tithe gatherer)
Little John
 an outlaw
 the Sheriff's daughter
 the miller's son, an outlaw
Robin Hood
 in disguise as Locksley
Sir Reginald d' Bracy
 Sheriff of Nottingham
Will Scarlett
 an outlaw

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