Back to Giselle home



Her Majesty's Theatre aka The Italian Opera House in 1828

London, April 1842

Giselle's London première took place at Her Majesty's Theatre a bit less than a year after its opening night in Paris. The ballet company at Her Majesty's was considered one of the best in Europe, second only to the Paris Opera.

The Giselle team had strong connections with Her Majesty's. Jules Perrot, Carlotta Grisi's lover and the choreographer of the Paris production, had been producing ballets there since 1830. The theatre's manager, Benjamin Lumley, appointed him as chief choreographer in 1842, the year that Giselle was first performed. Giulia Grisi, Carlotta's cousin and a celebrated opera singer, had made her London debut at Her Majesty's.

First London Review

Her Majesty's Theatre

Illustrirte Zeitung 1843 21 329 2 Das italienische Opernhaus in London von der Bühne aus gesehen
The interior of Her Majesty's Theatre in 1843

As you can see in the illustration, Her Majesty's Theatre was large even by modern standards with a seating capacity of 2,500.

The building shown here burned down in 1867 in a fire thought to have been caused by an overheated stove. All that survives of this version of the building is a shopping arcade, called the Royal Opera Arcade, which has survived fires and renovations and still exists.

Notice the footlights and the large lustre that lights the stage and the house. All the lights in the theatre were powered by coal gas by 1842.

Illustrirte Zeitung 1843 21 329 1 Die königliche Loge in der italienischen Oper in London
The Royal Box at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1843

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were enthusiastic theatre-goers in London at this time. It is likely that they would have seen Giselle during its first London run. If so, this is the box from which they would have seen it.

Card image: Her Majesty's Theatre aka The Italian Opera House in 1828 | Courtesy of the New York Public Library (