The characters and chorus

The Narrator

The Narrator of The Little Black Cat is more than a storyteller on the side lines. They engage with the action and help the audience see into Eilidh’s thoughts and feelings. They even take on their own role in the story, appearing to Eilidh in the character of a travelling Peddler and ensuring that she is set on the right path.

This is a very large, key role, mostly spoken, but with some singing, when in character as the Peddler. It needs a strong, engaging actor, able to speak both prose and poetry, to pace their performance with music and carry the story from beginning to end.


Eilidh is an orphan who lives with her uncle and aunt and their child. They treat her very badly, using her as a house slave: she lives a life of drudgery, constantly nagged and bullied. Her one friend is her little black cat – the two are inseparable and Eilidh confides all her doubts and fears in her beloved companion.

Despite her terrible life, Eilidh is a good, kind person with a hidden streak of courage and self-reliance. When disaster strikes, she is able to overcome the obstacles in her way and take on a dangerous journey, for which the rewards are both material and personal. Through the opera we see Eilidh grow into a strong and independent young woman.

This is a lovely lyrical role for an excellent singer and actor who must be able to carry the show.

The Family

Eilidh’s uncle (the Father) and aunt (the Mother) are greedy and cruel. The Father constantly shouts at Eilidh, calling her lazy and stupid, while the Mother peppers her with conflicting orders. The Child is as bad as their parents, tormenting Eilidh with constant demands. Like many bullies, they all lack real courage and when a desperate situation forces Eilidh to stand up to them, they are so taken aback that they do not stand in her way.

In the end, their greed brings their downfall. Despite their wealth, they are unable to resist what they see as the promise of unlimited riches, but where Eilidh’s journey is driven by bravery and courage, they are motivated purely by avarice and the outcome is very different.

These are character roles, great fun to perform. The nasty little family always perform as a trio, so being able to sing in a small ensemble while holding a distinctive character is a must.

The Little Black Cat

The Little Black Cat is performed in the first act by a puppet, voiced by the clarinet in the orchestra. When we meet them on Cat Mountain, they have a human voice, as they rescue Eilidh from the dangers the island holds. At least as important, however, is their role in helping Eilidh confront her inner fears about herself. As Eilidh’s true friend, they are able to break through the carapace built up during years of ill-treatment and to set Eilidh on the path, not just to safety and comfort, but to a happier inner life.

This smaller, but crucial role requires a sensitive singer, able to sustain both solo and duet performance.

The Ferrywoman

The Ferrywoman is a strange character who exists between the human world and the spirit world of the cats. She does not enter either, but exists to carry people between them. Never fully explained, she is an eerie figure, seeing into the hearts of those who enter her boat and uttering strange warnings which seem to go beyond the dangers of Cat Mountain itself.

The fact that the Ferrywoman speaks with Eilidh, warning her of danger ahead, but ferries across the family in silence, tells you everything you need to know about their fate.

This a role for an imaginative singer, who is able to convince us that they are not entirely of this world. The role requires close work with the puppeteers who will create the journey around the singer.

Monster cats!

Cat Mountain is a strange place and the Cats who live there are not the benign pets and nervous strays that inhabit the human world. This is a place where cats exist in their innermost feline essence. They are proud and fierce and dedicated to protecting their island from intruders from the human world.

Our choruses of monster cats are great fun to sing, expressing the wild ferocity of what are, from a human perspective, monstrous cat spirits. Mostly threatening from the shadows, they come into the open in the final scene to confront the cruelty and greed of the Father, Mother and Child.

The Cats are performed by an onstage chorus, and are manifested as puppets. The chorus will be visible and will perform in character. Everybody is welcome to join the CYO chorus.