Benjamin Lumley et al. - 4 May, 1848

from Reminiscences of the Opera, pages 217-9:

And now Thursday, the 4th of May, drew nigh. The privileged of the theatre told tales abroad of the appearance of the "Swedish Nightingale" at rehearsal, of her enthusiastic reception by all the members of the orchestra, of her overpowering emotion on facing this tumultuously flattering welcome, and of her undiminished, nay, increased powers. Thursday, the 4th of May came. The scenes of excitement in all the thoroughfares leading to the theatre were once more renewed; again were struggling crowds early at the doors; again were hats doubled up, and dresses torn; and again was the throng of carriages, the clamour and conflict of coachmen, servants, policemen, mob, the same as of yore. A "Jenny Lind crush" had lost nothing of its fever and intensity. The adored prima donna was to make her reappearance in the part which, more than all, had fascinated her enraptured admirers of the previous year, namely, the part of Amina in "La Sonnambula." Words fail to describe the aspect of the overcrowded house, the tumultuous reception, the enthusiasm which knew no bounds and no limits of time, or to give an idea of the prolonged cheering that followed every vocal display on the part of this idol of the public. The house was crowded to a state of impossibility, which eagerness and determination had exercised their magic to make possible. The Court was present ; and an incident, independent of the great event of the evening, is worthy of record. It was the first appearance of the Queen in public, since the famous 10th of April, when English loyalty and English " pluck " had pretty clearly shown that England could have nothing to fear from the revolutionary elements which were just then rife in Europe, driving monarchs from their thrones. When the British Sovereign first reappeared among her subjects, loyalty was not to be baulked of a fitting de- monstration; and in spite of the etiquette of the day, which allowed the Queen, as well as her subjects, to enjoy a dramatic entertainment without interruption, she was received by such universal homage of acclamation, that she was constrained to appear in the front of her box to acknowledge the demonstration, whilst the the National Anthem was sung by the chief singers of the establishment. Well might the newspapers of the day preface their record by the phrase, "The great evening of the season has come off, and the result has been most brilliant."

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Benjamin Lumley, Reminiscences of the Opera (London, 1864), p. 217-9. accessed: 27 January, 2023


Benjamin Lumley
Opera manager, Solicitor
Queen Victoria

Listening to

hide composers
La Sonnambula
written by Felice Romani, Vincenzo Bellini
performed by Jenny Lind

Experience Information

Date/Time 4 May, 1848
Medium live
Listening Environment in the company of others, indoors, in public


In the years 1839, 1842 and 1848, the Chartist Movement urged Parliament to adopt three great petitions. Of these, the best known is the final petition, with six million signatures (although a number of these were later found to be fake), presented to Parliament on 10th April 1848 after a huge meeting on Kennington Common. This event achieved great prominence in the story of Chartism, due largely to the reaction of the authorities as they faced the challenges of that turbulent year. The presentation of the petition came at a time of much violent change in Europe; Louis Philippe had been removed from the French throne in February 1848, and revolutions were soon to convulse other European capitals. These events had given great heart to the Chartist leaders, although they were already much encouraged by the election to Parliament, in July 1847, of their most popular leader, Feargus O'Connor. ...some of the propertied classes had come to believe that the Chartists intended revolution... Working people had proclaimed themselves as Chartists at crowded meetings throughout March 1848. The authorities had viewed this campaign with great concern, and some of the propertied classes had come to believe that the Chartists intended revolution, even though the Movement's leaders always emphasized their commitment to peaceful protest. The government's concern led to Queen Victoria being dispatched to the Isle of Wight for her safety, and the Duke of Wellington - with thousands of soldiers and special constables - was brought in to defend London.

Originally submitted by sp327 on Wed, 05 Aug 2015 09:54:27 +0100
Approved on Wed, 20 Apr 2016 13:43:18 +0100