Hugh the Drover [Hugh the Drover, or Love in the Stocks]
- Michael Kennedy
Romantic ballad opera in two acts by Ralph Vaughan Williams to a libretto by Harold Child; London, Royal College of Music, 4 July 1924.
The opera, composed between 1910 and 1914, is set in a small English Cotswold town in about 1812, when invasion by Napoleon is expected. Mary (soprano) is to marry John the butcher (bass-baritone) against her will; her Aunt Jane (contralto) persuades her to accept the situation. A stranger, Hugh the Drover (tenor), arrives; he and Mary fall in love at first sight. In his ‘Song of the Road’ he offers her a life of freedom and toil instead of the comfort she would have with John. Hugh challenges John to fight for her hand. The butcher loses but accuses Hugh of being a French spy. The Constable (bass), Mary’s father, orders Hugh to be put in the stocks....