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Music Text

Libretto by George H Jessop after the poem by Le Fanu (E)


S,M,2T,Bar,B,2speakers; chorus

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Opéra-Comique, London
Company: Opera Comique


SHAMUS O'BRIEN, "on his keeping" (outlawed) Baritone
FATHER O'FLYNN, Parish Priest of Ballyhamis Bass
CAPTAIN TREVOR, of the British Army Tenor
MIKE MURPHY, a peasant farmer Tenor
SERGEANT COX, of Captain Trevor's company speaking role
NORA O'BRIEN, wife of Shamus Mezzo Soprano
KITTY O'TOOLE, sister to Nora Soprano
LITTLE PAUDEEN, heir of the O'Briens speaking role
Time and Place

Ireland, immediately after the suppression of the rebellion, 1798


The villagers of Ballyhamis, in the mountains of Cork, are disturbed by the news brought by Father O’Flynn that the popular Shamus O’Brien is being sought by British soldiers. The farmer Mike Murphy, however, who lost his beloved Nora to Shamus, has informed on Shamus for a reward of 100 guineas. Nora’s sister Kitty keeps watch on the road, and when Captain Trevor of the British army arrives she overhears his conversation with Murphy. Next she turns her charm on the Captain, though he still goes off to fetch his men to search the house Murphy has pointed out. Shamus comes from the house and Kitty warns him what is afoot, while Nora and Father O’Flynn put a creel – a large basket used for carrying turf – on the roof as a signal to gather the men-folk. Next the soldiers march in, but Kitty claims that no-one but the village idiot is inside. Enter Shamus acting the fool, which convinces Captain Trevor that they have missed O’Brien, but it is in fact Shamus who leads them off on a wild-goose chase in search of himself. He returns without them, but Murphy has been watchful and Shamus is finally seized. In the first scene of the second act, in the soldier’s barracks, Father O’Flynn and the villagers plead for Shamus, but he is condemned to die. In the final scene, the soldiers prepare to hang him on a country road, but he leaps from the cart and runs. When the soldiers fire, it is Murphy who falls down as Shamus escapes.


Comic, Romantic

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