Robin Hood (comic Opera)
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Robin Hood Comic Opera

Robin Hood is a comic opera by Reginald De Koven (music), Harry B. Smith (lyrics) and Clement Scott (lyrics of "Oh Promise Me"). The story is based on the Robin Hood legend, during the reign of King Richard I (1189-1199 AD). The opera was composed in Chicago, Illinois during the winter of 1888-1889.

The opera was first performed at the Chicago Opera House on 9 June 1890.[1] It was produced by the Boston Ideal Opera Company, also known as the Bostonians.[2] The opera opened in New York at the Standard Theatre on September 22, 1891 and was produced in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1891 with a new title, Maid Marian. It was revived at the Knickerbocker Theater on Broadway on April 30, 1900. Other Broadway revivals were in 1902 at the Academy of Music, in 1912 at New Amsterdam Theatre with Walter Hyde in the title role, in 1918 at the Park Theatre, in 1929 at the Casino Theatre and Jolson's 59th Street Theatre, in 1932 at Erlanger's Theatre, and in 1944 at the Adelphi Theatre.

In 2004 Ohio Light Opera produced the opera based on a new critical edition of the opera that it commissioned from Quade Winter, based on the composer's original manuscripts in the Library of Congress. A complete CD recording was issued by Albany Records.[3]


All three acts consist of alternating recitative and melodic singing.

Act 1

In the market square in Nottingham, England, villagers are singing and dancing about the first day of May ("Mayday") and "Tis the Morning of the Fair". Friar Tuck, an overweight comic character, sings "As an Honest Auctioneer" about selling goods including a suit of clothes. The milkmaids sing the "Milkmaid's Song" about how wonderful their life is, followed by Allan-a-Dale who sings about real milkmaids being overworked. Robin Hood and his archers arrive and the chorus sings "Come the Bowmen in Lincoln Green" (the color of their costumes) about their ideal life in the woods and are welcomed to an archery contest. Allan-a-Dale gets into an argument (in song) with Robin about love and kissing. Friar Tuck joins the argument, and one of the milkmaids, Maid Marian, sings "I Came As a Cavalier". Robin Hood and Maid Marian sing a duet "Though It Was Within This Hour We Met".

The Sheriff of Nottingham appears and announces his plan to arrange a marriage of his nephew Guy of Gisborne to the beautiful Maid Marian. The Sheriff sings a boastful song "I am the Sheriff of Nottingham" that labels him as the villain. Sir Guy and the Sheriff sing a duet about how Sir Guy should ask Marian to marry him. Maid Marian sings about another boyfriend named Colin while the Sheriff instructs Sir Guy to sing to Marian "Sweetheart, my own sweetheart. Lift up thy bonny eyes". Robin Hood and the bowmen return and sing about all the prizes they won in the archery contest. Because Robin is to receive his inheritance today, they go to the Sheriff's residence, knock on the door, and demand that the Sheriff declare Robin Hood's title of Earl, title to his land, and cash. The Sheriff comes to the door and refuses all demands. He declares "No Earl are you, you vain, presumptuous youth" and produces forged documents proving that Sir Guy is the Earl. Little John sings to Robin "Come to Sherwood, join our jolly crew." Robin and his friends exit singing "Away to the woods".

Act 2

In Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and his friends have gathered. Songs include "O Cheerily Sounds the Hunter's Horn", "The Tailor and the Crow", "Brown October Ale", the "Tinker's Song", "O See the Lambkins Play" (a drinking song), and "Ho then for Jollity" (drinking song). Marian sings the "Forest Song" dreaming of Robin. Robin sings a serenade "A Troubadour Sang to His Love". Allan-a-Dale plans revenge for losing Marian to Robin. The Sheriff, who was pursuing Robin's followers as outlaws, is himself captured by them and they sing "Put him in the stocks. He is captive, our enemy, we win the game." Dame Durden sings to the Sheriff: "Faithless one, you're in a gruesome plight." But Sir Guy arrives with soldiers and overpowers Robin's men. Sir Guy and the Sheriff sing "We're brave as lions, for we're two to one." and "Sing hey for the gallows tree". Robin sings "You have no power to take my life. Marian must be my wife. It is the king's command." The Sheriff replies "The King's command is for the Earl of Huntington. The Earl of Huntington is Guy, and Guy will bridegroom be." All return to Nottingham.

Act 3

In the courtyard of the Sheriff's castle, Will Scarlet the blacksmith sings the "Armourer's Song". Annabel sings about the coming wedding of Marian to Guy, and Allan-a-Dale sings the "Legend of the Chimes" in expectation of Robin's funeral. Robin and Marian sing a sad song pledging their love for each other. The Sheriff and Friar Tuck sing a duet about the "pains and pangs" of life. Robin and his men are in the courtyard of the castle where Robin finds King Richard the First who arrived home from the Crusades. Robin receives a pardon from King Richard and the return of his land. The Sheriff and Sir Guy sing about "A pardon from the King... Yes you are free".

Notes: "Oh Promise Me" was not part of the original opera, but was written in 1887 by De Koven to lyrics written by English poet Clement Scott and published as a separate art song in 1889. The piece is used in Act 3, sung at the wedding of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, but in the 1891 version it was sung in Act 2 between "Brown October Ale" and the "Tinkers' Song".[4]


  • Robert of Huntington (Robin Hood) (tenor)
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham (baritone)
  • Sir Guy of Gisborne, a ward of the sheriff (tenor)
  • Little John, outlaw (baritone)
  • Will Scarlet, outlaw, blacksmith and armorer (bass)
  • Friar Tuck, outlaw clergyman (bass)
  • Allan-A-Dale, outlaw (contralto)
  • Lady Marian Fitzwalter (Maid Marian) (soprano)
  • Dame Durden, a widow (mezzo-soprano)
  • Annabel, Durden's daughter (soprano)
  • the chorus


  1. ^ Three Centuries of American Music vol. 5, page xxvii
  2. ^ CD paper insert for Reginald De Koven's Robin Hood, AEI-CD 032.
  3. ^ Ohio Light Opera, James Stuart (conductor), Albany Records, Albany, NY, 2-CD set (2004)
  4. ^ Three Centuries of American Music vol. 5, page 327 footnote: "sung between Nos. 10 and 11 of this score"


  • Three Centuries of American Music, Martha Furman Schleifer (editor), G.K. Hall & Co. 1990, Vol, 5, pages xxvii, 106-330.
  • Music and Romance, Hazel Gertrude Kinscella, pages 385-386

External links

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