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date: 21 September 2019

Gustavus III, King of Swedenlocked

  • Bertil H. van Boer

Extract

(b Stockholm, Jan 24, 1746; d Stockholm, March 29, 1792). Swedish ruler, patron and librettist. Son of Queen Lovisa Ulrika (the sister of Frederick the Great) and King Adolph Frederik, he began to write librettos and dramas at the age of ten. He continued his education in Paris, where he began to write paraphrases of opéras comiques by Favart and tragédies lyriques by Racine, Marmontel, Quinault and others. In 1771 he became King of Sweden, and in March 1772 staged a coup which gave him absolute authority and allowed him to pursue his aim of creating a Swedish national opera. In January 1773 F.A.B. Uttini’s Thetis och Pelée, for which Gustavus had drafted the text, inaugurated the Swedish Royal Opera. Over the next decade Gustavus personally oversaw the development of Swedish opera, gathering around him a group of native writers to rework his prose texts into librettos. He established a court theatre, gave financial support to private theatres, and encouraged the composers J.G. Naumann, J.M. Kraus and G.J. Vogler, the ballet-masters Louis Gallodier, Frederico Terrade and Antoine Bournonville and the set designer Louis-Jean Desprez. He built the Royal Opera (...

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