The Gentle Shepherd

Love, heartache, and sheep are plentiful in Scotland's first opera. In the Scottish Lowlands, just outside Edinburgh, live two couple: Patie (PAY-tee) and Peggy who are happily in love, and Roger and Jenny play a game of cat and mouse. One day, Patie receives a visit from a mysterious fortune teller who predicts that he will become royalty. The fortuneteller is soon revealed to be Sir William, Patie's estranged father. The reunion is bittersweet as Sir William forbids the noble Patie from marrying the commoner Peggy. But all ends happily for the couple as Peggy is, of course, revealed to be of noble blood and she and Patie wed. Roger and Jenny, too, are finally united.

 
"The Wawking of the Fauld" is the first song in The Gentle Shepherd and is sung by Patie. All the songs in the play are based off popular folk and fiddle tunes of the time. While Ramsay changed the words to all the songs to contain his poetic text, he did not change the names of the tunes. This is one of the few tunes in the show that uses the title text in the song.

"The Wawking of the Fauld" is the first song in The Gentle Shepherd and is sung by Patie. All the songs in the play are based off popular folk and fiddle tunes of the time. While Ramsay changed the words to all the songs to contain his poetic text, he did not change the names of the tunes. This is one of the few tunes in the show that uses the title text in the song.

The Show

Written in Edinburgh by poet Allan Ramsay, The Gentle Shepherd (1725) is considered to be the first Scottish opera - but really, we think of it as a musical play. The show is unique in that the music fuses Scottish folk and fiddle music with Italian Baroque music to create heartfelt ballads and foot-stomping dance tunes. Ramsay's beautiful (and humorous) poetry is delivered primarily through spoken dialogue. Some stanzas are set to well-known Scottish folk tunes and become "arias."

The show has seldom been performed anywhere over the past 200 years. In North America, it was last seen in Philadelphia in 1798. (We joke that we gave the North American (re)premiere of the show. )

 

Our production

Our (re)premiere included an ensemble of nineteen musicians, actors, and dancers from the Thistle and Heather Highland Dancers. Instrumentalists performed on original or replicas of 200+ year old instruments, and singers and actors sang and spoke in old English and Scottish dialects. As you might imagine, since the production was about sheep, there were several adorable stuffed sheep on hand including our official mascot Pepe. All our performances sold out (!!) and we caught the attention of WFMT Chicago, the Chicago Tribune, the RedEyeEarly Music America., and we received a great review in the Herald Times.

2016 Showings

Old Town School of Folk Music - Chicago, September 24
Theater Wit - Chicago, September 25
Waldron Arts Center - Bloomington IN, November 12