Opera Scotland

King Arthur 2


John More Smieton (born Dundee 1857; died Broughty Ferry, 13 July 1904)


James Smieton


Le Morte d'Arthur attributed to Sir Thomas Malory (d1471).



First Performance: Broughty Ferry (Volunteer Hall), 3 December 1889.



John More Smieton was a member of a prosperous family of jute manufacturers. He studied music privately in Dundee before taking a degree in music at Edinburgh University and studying further in Manchester and London. However the early death of his father obliged him to work running the family jute business in partnership with his brother.

He composed songs and piano solos as well as choral settings and one orchestral overture. He produced no symphonies, concertos or operas. The Dramatic Cantata form was extremely popular in late Victorian times, examples including Sullivan (The Golden Legend)  Mackenzie (The Rose of Sharon) and Elgar (Caractacus, King Olaf). Smieton had one attempt, Pearl, as a juvenile, and as a mature composer produced three, all to libretti by his brother James. These are Ariadne (1884), King Arthur (1889) and Connla (1900). It was King Arthur that enjoyed particular success, receiving 100 performances around the UK by the time of the composer's death.



King Arthur (tenor)

Merlin, a magician (baritone)

Guinevere (soprano)

Sir Bedivere, a knight (baritone)

The Cast

King Arthur
 a magician
Sir Bedivere
 a knight

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