Opera Scotland

Love in a Village

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Thomas Arne (born London, 12 March 1710; died London, 5 March 1778)


Isaac Bickerstaff.


The Village Opera (1729) by Charles Johnson.



First Performance: London (Covent Garden), 8 December 1762.

First Performance in Scotland tbc.



One of the most successful of the ballad-operas of this period, Love in a Village has a charmingly naive plot combined with attractive music gathered together by Arne. Only if he couldn't find suitable music ready made, either from his own or another hand, would he take up his pen to compose something new. Thus of 42 musical numbers, only 18 were by Arne, and only five of those were composed specifically for this work.


Main Characters

Rosetta, in disguise as a chambermaid (soprano).

Sir William Meadows, a squire.

Young Meadows, his son, disguised as Thomas, a gardener (tenor).

Mr Justice Woodcock, a country magistrate (bass).

Mrs Deborah Woodcock, his wife (mezzo-soprano).

Lucinda Woodcock, their daughter (soprano).

Farmer Hawthorne, a neighbour (tenor).


Plot Summary

Rosetta has run away from home, terrified at the pressure being applied for her to marry a man she has never met, the son of an old friend of her father. She enters domestic service in the employ of the Woodcocks. She quickly meets Thomas, a young gardener on the estate, and they fall in love.

Sir William Meadows arrives, having traced his errant son to the Woodcock estate. It turns out that Thomas was, all along, the young man to whom Rosetta had been betrothed - and he had also run away to escape the repugnant forced marriage. All ends happily.

The Cast

Cook Maid
Country Girl
Farmer Hawthorne
 the Justice's neighbour
Justice Woodcock
Lucinda Woodcock
 the Justice's daughter
Mrs Deborah Woodcock
 disguised as a housemaid
Sir William Meadows
Young Meadows
 disguised as Thomas, a gardener

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