The Poor Soldier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Poor Soldier is a 1783 British pasticcio opera with music by William Shield and a text by John O'Keeffe. It was a comedy set around Irish soldiers returning home after fighting in the British army in the American War of Independence, which formally ended that year with the Peace of Paris.[1] One of the redcoats must fight for the love of Norah with the urbane Captain Fitzroy. The events are set entirely in a small Irish village called Carton, a few miles from Dublin, although several versions refer to it only as "a country village".[2]

The Poor Soldier was an altered version, as an afterpiece, of the earlier The Shamrock, or The Anniversary of St Patrick, first performed as a comic opera on 16 April 1777 at Crow Street Theatre, Dublin, followed by a London performance on 7 April 1783 at Covent Garden. The first performance of The Poor Soldier took place on 4 November 1783 at Covent Garden.[3]

The work enjoyed widespread popularity in the newly independent United States, and was a favourite of George Washington.[4]

The music by Shield was mostly based on Irish traditional tunes, which had been sung to Shield by the Irishman O'Keeffe,[5] as in many other examples of the collaboration between Shield and O'Keeffe.[6]

In 1786, O'Keeffe wrote a sequel Love in a Camp, when the characters have joined the Prussian army.


  1. ^ Shaffer, p. 174.
  2. ^ Richards, p. 64.
  3. ^ White, Eric Walter: A Register of First Performances of English Operas (London: Society for Theatre Research, 1983), p. 49.
  4. ^ McLucas, p. 90.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Brian Boydell: "O'Keeffe, John", in: Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG), biographical part, vol. 15 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2006), cc. 702–3.


  • Brasmer, William & Osborne, William (eds.): The Poor Soldier (1783) (Madison, Wisconsin: A-R Editions, 1978)
  • Hager, Alan: Encyclopedia of British Writers: 16th, 17th & 18th Centuries (New York: Book Builders, 2005)
  • McLucas, Anne Dhu: The Musical Ear: Oral Traditions in the USA (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010)
  • Richards, Jeffrey H.: Drama, Theatre and Identity in the American New Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Shaffer, Jason: Performing Patriotism: National Identity in the Colonial and Revolutionary American Theater (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007)

External links[edit]