mezzo soprano, Contralto, 3 Tenors, Baritone, Bass baritone, 2 Basses
John Brown, a man of strong character whose insistent warnings about the safety of a coal face being worked have been ignored, is trapped in a tremendous mining accident. Flashbacks relate how Katie loved John but married the foreman, Wayson, for his money and position; eventually she died carrying John’s child. Returning to the present, Wayson considers a rescue attempt useless, but a few helpers are determined to try. Knocking is heard and more miners and Wayson join the rescue party. A breakthrough is made but it is too late. John Brown dies and the opera ends in a mood of guilty recrimination. The libretto is based on a true incident which occurred in a depressed Scottish mining village in 1835.