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Music Text

Libretto by V C Clinton-Baddeley based on a book by Clinton-Baddeley and Scobie Mackenzie (E)


2S,M,A,3T,3Bar,B; chorus

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

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


World Premiere
The Opera House, Manchester
Company: unknown


SIR RODERICK VENOM, the cruel governor of Jamaica Tenor
SIR WILLIAM ROWLOCKS, Admiral of the Fleet and Their Majesties' Emiisary to the West Indies Tenor
JOLLY ROGER, a young Planter, wrongly accused of piracy Tenor
BOLD BEN BLISTER, late of the Royal Navy and his faithful companion Bass
THE BLOODY PIRATE, the terror of the Spanish Main Baritone
DIRTY DICK, LONG TOM, two cut-throats at his beck and call Baritones
HARRY LEECH, a longshoreman speaking role
A VERY SMALL PIRATE speaking role
AMELIA, the Admiral's daughter Soprano
MISS FLORA POTT, her companion Mezzo Soprano
PRUDENCE WARY, her maid Contralto
BELLA, a colonial young lady Soprano
Company of Pirates, Longshoremen, Officers, Ladies of colonial society, Women of the town chorus
Time and Place

In and about the town of Kingston, Jamaica, 1690


Sir Roderick Venom, the Governor of Jamaica, is attempting to divert attention from his complicity with the lawless pirates by arresting the innocent planter Jolly Roger and, having labelled him 'the Bloody Pirate', ordering his public flogging. Recently arrived from England, however, are the Admiral Sir William Rowlocks, his daughter Amelia and various companions, come to put an end to Venom's tyrannical rule. Rowlocks prevents the punishment, though Jolly Roger is still dispatched to the coalhole, while Venom pursues his nefarious schemes by plotting with the real pirates to kidnap the Admiral and his party, throw the men overboard and distribute the women among the pirates themselves. Roger is freed from the coalhole by his friend Ben Blister and, meeting up with Amelia, they declare their love.

Venom's scheme starts well, however, with the Admiral and the women held captive aboard the pirate ship, though the worst is held off by Rowlocks's lectures to the hardened crew on moral rectitude. Roger and Ben's rescue attempt is only a partial success, since they and the Admiral are still thrown overboard, but fortunately they manage to clamber into a boat moored alongside and escape. The Governor continues to hold Amelia, however, and is on the point of marrying her when Roger and Ben arrive, only to be captured again. They are saved by the Admiral, who turns up with a Royal Decree depriving Venom of his office. He and the pirates are ushered away to execution, and various appropriate marriages are announced, most notably that of Jolly Roger with Amelia.


Comic, Romantic

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