Rob Roy MacGregor

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Rob Roy MacGregor is an opera (or sometimes called a melodrama) credited in some sources (e.g. Burwick[1]) by William Henry Murray[2], written in association with Walter Scott.

The original text

Ostensibly adapted from the novel Rob Roy (1817) by Sir Walter Scott, by Murray and Scott, with whom he had collaborated before, According to some sources it was first performed on June 10, 1818 in Edinburgh. It is mentioned again as a play "adapted and produced by Murray" in 1822 during, the King's last and least formal public appearance during his visit to Edinburgh.

However there does not seem to be an extant text for the play (or plays) mentioned, and other sources suggest that the work in question may actually have been Rob Roy MacGregor, or Auld Lang Syne, the well-known and successful London play by Pocock and Davy, which opened in Edinburgh on 15 February, 1819, produced by Murray in his capacity as theatre and company manager of the Theatre Royal by the North Bridge in the city. He also played "Captain Thornton" in the production.

For example, the entry on Murray by John Joseph Knight in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39:p.415[3] states that "..15 Feb. 1819, when 'Rob Roy MacGregor, or Auld Langsyne,' was produced, and proved the greatest and most enduring success probably ever known in Scotland. Murray was Captain Thornton." ... and that Murray "..wrote many dramas intended to serve a temporary purpose, and without literary aim. 'Diamond cut Diamond,' an interlude, from 'How to die for Love,' a translation from Kotzebue ; 'Cramond Brig,' assigned by error to Lockhart, and depreciated by Scott ; 'Mary Stuart,' 'Gilderoy,' and a burlesque of 'Romeo and Juliet,' were among his successes."

Performance history in South Africa

A play called Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell, said to be based on Scott's novel, was performed a number of times in the African Theatre, Cape Town by the amateur company English Theatricals in the years 1823-24 (it is later simply referred to a Rob Roy in the sources). It may have been the suggested version by Murray, though it is most likely the widely known and published musical version by Isaac Pocock (1782–1835)[4], with music by John Davy (1763-1824)[5].

For performances in South Africa, see Rob Roy

Translations and adaptations


Facsimile version of the London published text of 1818, Google eBook[6]

Facsimile version of the New York published text of 1818, Google eBook[7]

Frederick Burwick. Playing to the Crowd: London Popular Theatre, 1780-1830 (Palgrave Macmillan, 08 Nov 2011 )[8],_William_Henry_(DNB00)

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [9]: pp. 73-77, 142, 197-9.

Fletcher, 1994 p. 40

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