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Robin Hood (Macfarren) facts for kids

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Robin Hood is an English opera in three acts, music by George Alexander Macfarren and libretto by John Oxenford. It was first performed in London, on October 11, 1860.

Principal characters

  • Robin Hood (in disguise as Locksley) - tenor
  • Marian (daughter of Sheriff) - soprano
  • Sir Reginald d’Bracy (Sheriff of Nottingham) - baritone
  • Hugo (Sompnour, Collector of Abbey dues) - bass


Act I

The High Street of Nottingham

In the busy street, armourers work at their forge with women spinning yarn while a little flirting goes on between Allan and Alice. Robin Hood soon appears, masquerading under the name of Locksley, and meets Marian, the Sheriff’s daughter. Their intimate conversation is overheard by the Sheriff who will accept Locksley as son-in-law if he proves his marksmanship at tomorrow’s fair. The Sheriff issues a proclamation, offering a reward for the capture of Robin Hood, unaware that he is present as the yeoman, Locksley. The Sompnour enters to ask the Sheriff for protection through the forest as he carries the dues collected for the abbey from the peasantry. Allan, unable to afford his taxes, is ordered to the stocks by the Sheriff despite protests by the townsfolk. Locksley steps forward to pay Allan’s dues for his release. As the sun sets, the Sompnour and Sheriff leave for the castle. Locksley and Marian declare their affection before departing.

Act II

Scene 1: The Trysting tree in the Greenwood

Deep in Sherwood forest, by the trysting tree in moonlight, the Merrie Men relax after their toils, with a fat deer roasting. Robin appears to tell Little John of the Sompnour’s expected journey through the forest. They prepare to entrap him: the outlaws conceal themselves while Robin, John and Much, the miller’s son, disguise themselves as shepherds and tend to the fire. The Sompnour appears and tells his guards to arrest the shepherds for stealing the King’s venison. With affected humility they plead for mercy. When this is sternly refused Robin throws off his disguise and sounds his horn. The Sheriff’s men flee, leaving the Sompnour to be captured. Much proposes that he be hanged, but merciful Robin invites the Sompnour to supper. Yet he must pay generously for it. To escape the hanging he must dance for the outlaws’ amusement.

Scene 2: Marian’s bower

Marian watches the dawn break, imploring Heaven to assist her lover’s marksmanship and gain her father’s approval. The Sheriff appears and gives encouragement. Much reveals to the Sheriff that Robin Hood will be at the fair and asks for the reward, but the Sompnour recognises him from the forest and he is taken away. In the guise of a friar the Sompnour promises to find Robin and claim the reward himself. To this the Sheriff agrees.

Scene 3: The Fair outside Nottingham

We discover a scene of sport, dancing and games. Robin, as Locksley, recognises the Sompnour and tells Allan to get rid of him. After a dance Allan has the Sompnour blindfolded to play a game of ‘Hoodman Blind’. The archery match commences and Locksley proves his skill, enabling him to claim Marian’s hand. The Sompnour returns, recognises Locksley, and denounces him as the infamous Robin Hood. Amidst turmoil Robin is seized by the Sheriff’s men and led away.


Scene 1: The Castle garden

Allan and Alice lament the execution of Robin, to take place on the following day. Alice informs the Sheriff that Marian has escaped from her apartment. The Sompnour arrives to claim his reward, but is first told to go to the King for a warrant for Robin Hood’s execution.

Scene 2: The Greenwood at noon

Marian appears, dressed as a boy, to tell the outlaws that Robin is to be executed. She leads them to the castle.

Scene 3: Prison cell

In isolation, a distraught Robin awaits his fate. He then hears Marian with his Merrie Men singing outside. This renews his hopes.

Scene 4: The Courtyard of the Castle

Robin is brought from the castle and given time to confess his sins. With his arm freed, he then blows his horn to signal his faithful followers. They appear, led by Marian, to release him but are overpowered. However, the document assumed to be the death warrant is in fact a pardon, given on the understanding that they enter the service of the King. The Sheriff once again consents to the union of Robin and Marian, for which there is general rejoicing.

Structure of opera

  • Overture

Act I

  • No. 1. Introduction: „Clang, clang, it is a merry sound!“ (Alice, Allan, Chorus)
  • No. 1a. Ballad with Chorus: „The hunters wake with the early morn“ (Alice, Chorus)
  • No. 2. Duet: „When lovers are parted“ (Locksley, Marian)
  • No. 3. Trio: „A dark and troublous time is this“ (Sheriff, Marian, Locksley)
  • No. 4. Ballad: „True love, true love in my heart“ (Marian)
  • No. 5. Song: „The monk within his cell“ (Sompnour)
  • No. 6. Scena: „Be not severe—be not severe, I pray“ (Allan, Locksley, Chorus)
  • No. 6a. Song: „Englishmen by birth are free“ (Locksley, Chorus)
  • No. 7. Finale/Round: „May the saints protect and guide thee“ (Sheriff, Sompnour, Alice, Allan, Chorus)
  • No. 7a. Finale/Duet: „Good night, good night, the sun has set“ (Locksley, Marian)

Act II

  • No. 8. Part Song: „The wood, the gay greenwood“ (Chorus)
  • No. 9. Robbery Scene: „A good fat deer“ (Robin, Much, Little John, Sompnour, Chorus)
  • No. 9a. Song: „The grasping, rasping Norman race“ (Robin, Much, Little John, Sompnour, Chorus)
  • No. 10. Scena: „Hail, happy morn!“ (Marian)
  • No. 11. Duet: „To the fair“ (Marian, Alice)
  • No. 12. Ballad: „From childhood's dawn“ (Sheriff)
  • No. 13. Second Finale: „How bright is the day“ (Allan, Alice, Robin, Marian, Chorus)
  • No. 13a. Round Dance and Tilting at the Quintain
  • No. 13b. Hoodman Blind: „Who's for a game of "Hoodman Blind?"“ (Sompnour, Sheriff, Allan, Alice, Robin, Marian, Chorus)
  • No. 13c. Ballad: „Thy gentle voice would lead me on, My own, my guiding-star“ (Robin)
  • No. 13d. Archery Scene: „Merry laughter, heavy thwacks“ (Sheriff, Marian, Alice, Allan, Chorus)
  • No. 13e. Quintet: „My heart from its terror reposes at last“ (Marian, Alice, Allan, Robin, Sheriff)
  • No. 13f. Discovery Scene: „My children, thus your loves I bless“ (Sheriff, Sompnour, Allan, Alice, Robin, Marian, Chorus)


  • No. 14. Entr'acte
  • No. 15. Duet: „Greatest plague on earth“ (Allan, Alice)
  • No. 16. Scene: „My child has fled“ (Sheriff)
  • No. 17. Duet: „To King Richard at once you must go“ (Sheriff, Sompnour)
  • No. 18. Part Song: „Now the sun has mounted high“ (Chorus)
  • No. 19. Song: „Sons of the greenwood come!“ (Marian, Chorus)
  • No. 20. Scena: „Vain was the proud ambition of a sanguine hour“ (Robin, Marian, Chorus)
  • No. 21. Finale: „Hark to that doleful bell“ (All)


  • 2010: Nicky Spence (Robin Hood/Locksley), Kay Jordan (Marian), George Hulbert (Sceriff), Louis Hurst (Sompnour); John Powell Singers, Victorian Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Ronald Corp (Naxos)
  • The Complete Dictionary of Opera & Operetta, James Anderson, Wings Books, 1993.
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