Opera Scotland

Seal-Woman The Seal-Woman

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Granville Bantock (born London, 7 August 1868; died London, 16 October 1946)


Marjory Kennedy-Fraser (born Perth, 1 October 1857; died Edinburgh, 22 November 1930)


Hebridean folk-lore.



First Performance: Birmingham 27 September 1924.

First performance in Scotland: Irvine (Harbour Arts Centre), 29 September 2022.



A Celtic Folk Opera by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Granville Bantock.  This was Sir Granville Bantock's last opera.



Cailleach, an old crone and seer (mezzo-soprano)

Seal-Woman (mezzo-soprano)

Seal-Sister (Soprano)

Islesman (tenor)

Fisherman (baritone)



On an uninhabited islet in the Western Isles of the Scottish Hebrides, an old crone or 'Cailleach' sings of local legends of seals that turn into mortal women. The voices of a Seal-Woman and her Seal-Sister are heard in the distance.  Fishermen approach the island. The Islesman recalls a Seal-Woman he has seen before, and when she and her sister appear he keeps hold of their sea-robes, without which they cannot reassume their marine form.  He will only return those of the sister. He declares his love for the Seal-Woman, and she agrees to go with him.

Seven years later, the Seal-Woman has borne his child, Morag. The Cailleach visits them, and while she sleeps three prophetic swans arrive and predict that the Seal-Woman will be free only when she finds the sea-robe hidden in a peat stack. The Seal-Woman finds her sea-robe and is instantly drawn back to the sea. As the Islesman returns he watches as his wife flings herself from the cliff into the sea.

The Cast

 an old crone

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