The ‘job application’ of J. G. Noverre to Gustav III in Sweden
During the reign of Gustav III (1772-1792) culturallife blossomed in Stockholm. Gustaf III, also called the theatre king, was immensely interested in theatre, opera and ballet. Like many kings before him he understood the value of culture as a political means and he worked actively to build up Swedish theatre, opera and ballet. The influences from France were obvious and strong. The king’s motherQueen Louisa Ulrika, sister of Fredrik II in Prussia, had employed a French theatre group in order to improve Swedish cultural life. They were dismissed by Gustav III when he became king but some of them stayed on and helped to
educate Swedish artists which was one of the aims of Gustav III. The ideas of Jean George Noverre were discussed Stockholm mainly by Johan Henrik Kjellgren in the newspaper Stockholmsposten. He was a famous writer and could also be called the first ballet critic in Sweden. His efforts resulted in Antoine Bournonville, one of Noverre’s pupils, being employed at the Royal Opera in 1782. Towards the end of his career Noverre applied for a post in Stockholm. The ‘job application’ consists of two volumes. The first volume Programmes des Grand Ballet Historiques, Heroiques, Nationnaux, Moraux et Allegorique
de la Composition de MrNoverre. contains the synopsis of 19 ofhis ballets and the second volume Habites de Costume pare L’Execition des Balled De MrNoverre, has 147 ballet costume designs by Bouquet, ‘premiér Dessinateur des menus plaisir of costymes’. The ‘application’ is signed on the 2nd of January 1791. Gustaf III never employed Noverre though, one does not know for certain why. The ‘job application’ of Noverre was housed in the Royal Theatre till 1882 when it was handed over to the Royal Library where it is still housed in the Manuscript department (S254.1-2). This paper aimsat giving an overview of
the two volumes and to compare the content between them.
Anna Karin Ståhle
Celebrating Jean-Georges Noverre 1727-1810: his world, and beyond – 2010