John Socman

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John Socman is an opera in three acts by George Lloyd to a libretto by William Lloyd (the composer’s father). It was first performed by the Carl Rosa Opera Company at the Bristol Hippodrome, England on 15 May 1951.[1] The work was one of three operatic commissions to mark the Festival of Britain (the others being The Pilgrim’s Progress and Billy Budd).

Lloyd, who had suffered shellshock while serving in the Royal Marines during the Second World War, had a breakdown after writing John Socman, and abandoned composition for twenty years.[2]

Annette Phillips, director of Carl Rosa commented that George Lloyd was chosen for the 1951 Festival commission given the talent he had shown in his two previous operas, but that for financial reasons John Socman could not remain in the repertory, despite an enthusiastic reception from audiences.[3] The producer was Dennis Arundell, and a single performance followed in Northern Ireland.[4]

The vocal score was published in 1951. A complete studio recording from Manchester was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on 7 February 1982, conducted by Edward Downes.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 15 May 1951
Conductor: Arthur Hammond
John Socman, a magistrate baritone Redvers Llewellyn
Sybil, in love with Richard soprano Ruth Packer
Warner, a Lollard scholar, Sybil's father bass
Richard, an archer, in love with Sybil tenor John Myrddin
Gower, Socman's servant baritone
Mawle, the sheriff's man bass
The Gleemaiden, a wandering singer mezzo-soprano Gita Denise
Brother Tom, a disreputable cleric tenor Tudor Davies
Sir Hugh Marnay baritone
The farmer bass
First farmer's son
Second farmer's son
A tumbler mute


The opera is set in Wiltshire, in the aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt, in 1415.

On return from France, Richard discovers that his sweetheart Sybil is being pursued by John Socman who hopes to force her to marry him in order to avoid having her father, a follower of John Wycliffe, executed as a heretic. Eventually Socman is revealed to have abandoned a wife years before.


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Banfield S. John Socman. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
  2. ^ Banfield S. George Lloyd. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
  3. ^ Phillips A. Opera in Great Britain: Carl Rosa. In: Opera Annual 1954-1955. Ed Rosenthal H. John Calder Ltd, London, 1954.
  4. ^ Opera diary. Review, Opera, 1951, p421.

External links[edit]