Hugh the Drover

“it touches the heart and charms the ear” Rupert Christiansen – Daily Telegraph    

**** The Guardian  **** Financial Times

“an engaging and intimate production of this
underperformed masterpiece” **** Music OMH

“This wonderful production conveyed everything that Vaughan Williams could have wanted. A superb orchestra conducted by a joyful Nicholas Jenkins, costumes which were English in the real sense and skilful direction by Michael Moxham that seemed to re-create all the boisterousness of an English Fair of the Napoleonic period”.        Words and Music

This was a very moving and musically intelligent production of a vastly underappreciated opera – a touching, heart-warming and intensely enjoyable performance, full of feeling.         Lottie Greenhow

or Love in the Stocks

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Romantic Ballad Opera in two acts
Libretto by Harold Child

November 2010
Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
Cadogan Hall, London SW1
Connaught Theatre, Worthing
Lewes Town Hall

NSO Chorus, Children’s Chorus & Orchestra
conductor Nicholas Jenkins
Director Michael Moxham
Designer Yann Seabra
Costume Designer Giulia Scrimieri
Lighting Designer William Reynolds

Production supported by
The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust

A Showman Grant Doyle
Mary Celeste Lazarenko
Aunt Jane Clarissa Meek
The Turnkey Gareth John
The Constable William Robert Allenby
John the Butcher Simon Thorpe
Hugh the Drover Daniel Norman
A Sergeant Grant Doyle

A Cheap-Jack Michael Dlamini
A Shellfish-Seller Tim Locke
A Primrose Seller Jamie Hallam
A Ballad-Seller Red Gray
Nancy Jane Larsen
Susan Fiona Baines
Robert Richard Fisher
Wendy Rachel Rogers
A Fool Neil Peskett
The Innkeeper Norman Armstrong


Vaughan Williams’ poignantly beautiful ballad opera was written just before the First World War, with the final touches added on the composer’s return from war. It opens with a huge fair scene, with various chorus members taking step-out roles as salespeople (a cheap jack, wearing a costume laden with watches, a shellfish seller, a ballad seller and a primrose seller among them), singing market cries that Vaughan Williams had collected on his journeys in England gathering folk melodies while they were still in the public memory.


The costumes gave an impoverished, bedraggled look to the chorus of Cotswold villagers. Into their midst arrived a posse of child morris dancers, and a showman offering money for a prize fight: the latter meant setting up a boxing ring during involved chorus music, for the fight between John the Butcher and Hugh the Drover. Fortuitously one of our chorus members, Richard Bennett, had been an army boxing champion and was able to choreograph the fight quite brilliantly.

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