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Music, Theatre and Entertainment

Queen Victoria loved music, theatre and dance. In the Coronation Year of 1838, she attended the theatre or opera thirty-six times and gave a series of balls at Buckingham Palace (nine of which featured Johann Strauss the Elder and his orchestra). This intensity of theatre- and opera-going continued into the 1840s after the Queen’s marriage, and she and her new husband gave a series of costume balls, reflecting contemporary historical interest in the middle ages, the reign of Charles II and the early Georgian period.

Throughout the 1850s annual seasons of plays were staged in the state apartments at Windsor Castle by the renowned director Charles Kean, who presented his adaptations of Shakespeare before they appeared in London. These productions were recorded in watercolour by artists such as Louis Haghe and Egron Lundgren for the Queen’s Theatrical Album.
 
The royal children often mounted their own entertainments, sometimes to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. This could take the form of a dance, as recorded in 1850 by Winterhalter, or a tableau such as the evocation of James Thomson’s The Seasons, captured in both photographs and watercolour. 
 

S & P Erard

Grand piano

Ernst Friedrich August Rietschel (1804-61)

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Georg Andreas Wolffgang (1703-45)

George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759)

Prince Albert, Prince Consort, consort of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-61)

Dem Fernen

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-73)

Luigi Lablache (1794-1858)

Louis Haghe (1806-85)

Scene from Macbeth

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Signor Lablache as Guguelmo

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Jenny Lind as Maria