The Tumbling Lassie

The Tumbling Lassie

Music by Tom Cunningham

Libretto by Alexander McCall Smith

This mini-opera is based on a true story – that of the Tumbling Lassie, a child gymnast who was displayed in a travelling show in late seventeenth century Edinburgh. This child was seen by a woman from the Borders, Mrs Scot, who rescued her from her exploitative circumstances and took her off to live in the Borders. The showman, a Mr Reid, complained that the child was his property and that she had been stolen from him. He took the matter to the Court of Session, where the judges turned down his claim – effectively giving the first ruling in a Scottish court that slavery could not exist in Scotland. The child was released: history does not record what happened to her; the assumption is that Mrs Scot took her back to the Borders where once again she enjoyed the love she had not had in her previous life.

Narrator (speaks some lines, but also sings where indicated)
Tumbling Lassie Voice (who also sings part of the narration as Soprano)
The Mountebank Reid
Mrs Scot
Judge (sung by Narrator)
Gymnast (non-singing role) (The gymnast plays the role of the Tumbling Lassie;
the part is sung by an adult singer, Tumbling Lassie Voice above)

First performance 14th April 2018.

You can listen to the music for the gymnast's routines here: routine 1, routine 2, routine 3, routine 4.

You can read more about the story and the modern implications here.

You can read a press article here.  Similar articles appeared in The Scotsman, The Herald and The Times.