The Tumbling Lassie

The Tumbling Lassie

Music by Tom Cunningham

Libretto by Alexander McCall Smith

The operetta 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 Scott, 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 judge 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 Scott took her back to the Borders where once again she enjoyed the love she had not had in her previous life.


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

You cab 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.