Composer List


Genre List

Opera Length

Advanced Search


Leigh, Walter

Jolly Roger (1933)

Duration: 80 minutes
Comic opera in three acts

Libretto by V C Clinton-Baddeley based on a book by Clinton-Baddeley and Scobie Mackenzie (E)

2S,M,A,3T,3Bar,B; chorus tap-box/cowbell-harp-strings
Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
The Opera House, Manchester
Company: unknown


SIR RODERICK VENOM, the cruel governor of JamaicaTenor
SIR WILLIAM ROWLOCKS, Admiral of the Fleet and Their Majesties' Emiisary to the West IndiesTenor
JOLLY ROGER, a young Planter, wrongly accused of piracyTenor
BOLD BEN BLISTER, late of the Royal Navy and his faithful companionBass
THE BLOODY PIRATE, the terror of the Spanish MainBaritone
DIRTY DICK, LONG TOM, two cut-throats at his beck and callBaritones
HARRY LEECH, a longshoremanspeaking role
A VERY SMALL PIRATEspeaking role
AMELIA, the Admiral's daughterSoprano
MISS FLORA POTT, her companionMezzo Soprano
PRUDENCE WARY, her maidContralto
BELLA, a colonial young ladySoprano
Company of Pirates, Longshoremen, Officers, Ladies of colonial society, Women of the townchorus

Time and Place
In and about the town of Kingston, Jamaica, 1690


Sir Roderick Venom, the Governor of Jamaica, is attempting to divert attention from his complicity with the lawless pirates by arresting the innocent planter Jolly Roger and, having labelled him 'the Bloody Pirate', ordering his public flogging. Recently arrived from England, however, are the Admiral Sir William Rowlocks, his daughter Amelia and various companions, come to put an end to Venom's tyrannical rule. Rowlocks prevents the punishment, though Jolly Roger is still dispatched to the coalhole, while Venom pursues his nefarious schemes by plotting with the real pirates to kidnap the Admiral and his party, throw the men overboard and distribute the women among the pirates themselves. Roger is freed from the coalhole by his friend Ben Blister and, meeting up with Amelia, they declare their love. Venom's scheme starts well, however, with the Admiral and the women held captive aboard the pirate ship, though the worst is held off by Rowlocks's lectures to the hardened crew on moral rectitude. Roger and Ben's rescue attempt is only a partial success, since they and the Admiral are still thrown overboard, but fortunately they manage to clamber into a boat moored alongside and escape. The Governor continues to hold Amelia, however, and is on the point of marrying her when Roger and Ben arrive, only to be captured again. They are saved by the Admiral, who turns up with a Royal Decree depriving Venom of his office. He and the pirates are ushered away to execution, and various appropriate marriages are announced, most notably that of Jolly Roger with Amelia.

Comic, Romantic

History, Society

Mailing List

Sign up for news updates and offers via email

Audio Visual Gallery

Explore our library of 1500 online scores