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Decorated silk programme for a performance of Fidelio at the Royal Italian Opera, 19 April 1855

RA F&V/PLAYS/DECPROG/1855.0419 (view the document)

The Royal Archives hold a number of theatrical and concert programmes printed on silk.

They mark theatrical and musical performances attended by Queen Victoria.

The example shown here is for a Command Performance of Beethoven's opera, which took place during the State Visit to England of the French Emperor, Napoleon III, and Empress Eugénie.

From the entry in Queen Victoria's Journal it appears that only the second act of Fidelio was given. While Queen Victoria says little about the performance, she notes that, on leading the Emperor in, ‘The applause generally was very marked, & very marked for him’. The visit proved a great success.

James Roberts (c. 1800-67), The Queen visiting Covent Garden with the Emperor and Empress of the French, 19 April 1855, RCIN 920055 ©