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date: 19 October 2019

Drottningholm locked

  • Stanley Sadie

Extract

Swedish opera house on Lake Mälaren, just outside Stockholm, in the Swedish royal palace. The first theatre there was built in 1754; it burnt down in 1762 and was replaced by a larger building, designed by C.F. Adelcrantz and completed in 1766, with changes in 1791 by L.-J. Desprez. Its heyday began in 1777 when Gustavus III inherited the palace. The repertory included spoken drama, operas in French, Italian and Swedish and pantomime ballets. After the assassination of Gustavus in 1792 the theatre fell into disuse. Not until the 1920s was it investigated, by the theatre historian Anje Beijer. The original wooden machinery, by Donato Stopiani, was found to be in good working order, needing only to be fitted with new ropes (electrical wiring was also installed); it includes a windlass for changing the side flats, a wind machine, a thunderbox (containing rolling stones), two machines for flight chariots, rollers for clouds, a wave-machine, trapdoors and footlights and sidelights movement with controlled by wheel systems. Several original flats and backcloths survive, by Desprez, Carlo Bibiena and J.D. Dugourc. The theatre (cap. 454) has a single, raked floor with small side boxes; the main seating is on benches, in 32 rows. The building is 57 metres by 23, with a stage depth of 19·8 and a proscenium width of 8·8 and height of 6·6. Drottningholm is generally regarded as the best-preserved theatre of the 18th century, in particular for its machinery....

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