Benjamin Lumley et al. - 1847

from Reminiscences of the Opera, pages 184-5:

At last, through the kind intervention of the late Mr. Anson, a man justly honoured with the confidence of the Court, I overcame all difficulties. "Roberto il Diavolo" was duly licensed, and the eventful night arrived.

Rarely was ever seen such an excitement even at that focus of excitement — Her Majesty's Theatre. The crowd at the doors might have led to the suspicion of an emeute, in a capital less orderly than London; and the struggle for entrance was violent beyond precedent — so violent, indeed, that the phrase, "a Jenny Lind crush," became a proverbial expression. Nor was this crowd the result of a hasty gathering. From an early hour in the afternoon, the Haymarket became so thronged as to be impassable to pedestrians. As for the file of carriages, it seemed as interminable as it was dense.

The brilliant appearance of the house inside was increased by the presence of the Queen and Prince Albert, the Queen Dowager, and Duchess of Kent, who had all come to witness the debut of Jenny Lind.

On the entrance of the new prima donna as Alice, the welcome given to one who, though unknown, had already won renown, was unusually enthusiastic. For a few moments she appeared bewildered and "scared," but her self-possession returned. Her very first notes seemed to enthral the audience. The cadenza at the end of her opening air — the whole of which was listened to with a stillness quite singular — called down a hurricane of applause. From that moment her success was certain. The evening went on, and before it ended Jenny Lind was established as the favourite of the English opera public. Voice, style, execution, manner, acting — all delighted. The triumph was achieved.

At the end of the performance, the Queen, who during the entire evening had repeatedly manifested her extreme satisfaction, expressed to me her admiration in a tone and manner that showed how deep an impression had been made upon her. "What a beautiful singer!" "What an actress!" "How charming!" "How delightful!" Those were the exclamations that fell from the lips of Her Majesty, whom I had never before seen thus moved to enthusiasm.

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Benjamin Lumley, Reminiscences of the Opera (London, 1864), p. 184-5. accessed: 4 February, 2023


Benjamin Lumley
Opera manager, Solicitor
Queen Victoria

Listening to

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Robert le Diable
written by Giacomo Meyerbeer, Giacomo Meyerbeer
performed by Jenny Lind

Experience Information

Date/Time 1847
Medium live
Listening Environment in the company of others, indoors, in public

Originally submitted by sp327 on Tue, 04 Aug 2015 16:54:36 +0100
Approved on Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:56:13 +0100