Fergus of Galloway

Fergus of Galloway is a mini-opera for a small group of singers (minimum four, recommended eight), where each singer has at least one solo, and accompaniment is violin and piano. The songs are a mixture of solos, duets, a trio and four-part choruses (SATB). The part of Fergus (baritone, but can be transposed for tenor) is much bigger than the other roles. There is a short narration before each song. Duration: approximately 30 minutes. Here is one page. If you'd like to buy the vocal score, please email
web "at" tomcunningham "dot" org "dot" uk

Première: 10 December 2013, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh.

The cast, composer and author at the première.

Review from Caledonian Mercury 11/12/13

The 8-member cast of the Edinburgh Studio Opera brought all the humour to life. This is an operetta mainly for the chorus and their chorus work was superb. Every face told the story, every word could be heard and their movements around the stage were assured and precise.

Tom Cunningham’s music too was delightful, flowing natural tunes with a pacey accompaniment provided by Stuart Hope on the piano and Emma Donald on the violin.

"A great story, complemented by a marvellous score, and brought to life by a tightly-knit ensemble of performers, Fergus of Galloway makes for a great night of new musical theatre" Broadway World, June 2014.

Photos of the Cape Town production, May-June 2014, starring Daniel Richards, Jessica Munna, Jono Tait and Sne Dladla.

Tom Cunningham writes:

When reading a book on Scottish history, I was intrigued by a reference to “Le Roman de Fergus”, a 13th-century manuscript in French by Guillaume le Clerc, who may have lived in Scotland but, in any case, certainly knew his Scottish history and geography. There’s a copy of the French original in the National Library of Scotland and a modern translation into English. It relates the exploits of Fergus of Galloway as he puts himself through various challenges in order to prove he is worthy to be a Knight of King Arthur and to win the hand of the beautiful Galiene, the ruler of Lothian. It’s love at first sight but Fergus has many obstacles to overcome before the happy ending – an ideal story for a mini-opera.

Alexander McCall Smith has selected 12 episodes from “Le Roman de Fergus” and written verses for me to set to music, linked with short narrations. The tale begins with a stag hunt, the music echoing the call of the hunting horns and the galloping horses. Donning his rusty armour, Fergus of Galloway takes leave of his parents and sets off on his quest. Galiene declares her devotion in a beautiful love song but Fergus must prove himself as a Knight before he can marry her. After defeating a malevolent knight and winning the trophies, Fergus rescues Galiene from a siege at Roxburgh and the story ends with their wedding, celebrated in traditional style.