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Lisette Stenberg

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Spouse(s)  Desvigne, a frenchman.
Name  Lisette Stenberg
Role  Actress

Full Name  Maria Elisabet Stenberg
Born  23 October 1770 (1770-10-23) Stockholm, Sweden
Other names  Lisette Desvigne-Stenberg
Died  June 18, 1847, Vanersborg, Sweden

Caroline Lisette (Maria Elisabet) Stenberg (23 October 1770 in Stockholm or Gothenburg – 18 June 1847 in Vänersborg), was a Swedish actress and musician. She was a well known and popular actor in 18th century Stockholm, and a star of the Stenborg Theatre (founded by Petter Stenborg, different spelling). She was not only an actor but also a singer and a musician, a pianist, and played piano forte between the acts.



Born in Gothenburg, where her father worked as an inspector, she ran away from home with a lover: "Abandoned by her family, betrayed by her lover, the theatre became her only refuge, and in her despair she wover to become the most extravagant actress that ever existed. Unfortunately, she kept her promise all to well".

The Stenborg Theatre, which had been founded as a continuation of the old Stenborg Troupe of Petter Stenborg, was categorized as a boulevard theater by foreigners. It was less solemn then the Royal Dramatic Theatre and popular among the public, though not among the aristocracy.

She debuted at the Stenborg Theatre 2 April 1789, in a so-called Harlequinade, Arlequin Favirot-sultaninna (The favourite sultaness of Harlequin) at the age of nineteen. Her debut was a success. The paper asked who the new actress was (as a debutant, her name, according to the custom, was not in the program) and demanded to see her again. The same year, she played the part of Countess Clainville in Det oförmodade vadet (The unexpected bet), by Sedaine; she was to play the piano during this play, and surprised the audience by playing a claviacord sonata accompanied by a violin from the orchestra. This made her recognized as a musician, and her musical performance was repeated for the rest of the season. In 1794, she debuted as a concert singer at a concert at Riddarhuset, which was also a success.

She played music and sang in operettas and performed both melodrama, tragedy and "higher comedy". She played Franciska in Minna von Barnhelm by Lessing in (1793), and was the first in Sweden to play Cherubin in The Marriage of Figaro (play) (1792). She played Orgon in Tartuffe, Zemir in Zemir och Azor by Gretry, the main part inRosalie and the seductor in Den förförda ynglingen (The Seduced Youth) by Didrik Björn, and was among the first Swedish female actors, whose names are kept, to have performed a breeches role when she played the part of Count Razilli in 1790.

G. A. Silfverstolpe called her "one of the greatest actors the world have seen"; she was very popular among the audience and had a lot of admirers, but she was often in trouble with the police. As a person, she was described as a confidant and strong young woman. It was said that "her fame as an actress grew in parallel with her extravagance". In 1797, a performance was given in benefit of "one of the actresses, who has always had the fortune to enjoy the flattering admiration from the audience as well as the proof of its support": her name was not revealed, as she at that point was bankrupt.


Lisette Stenberg was involved in several scandals with the police. She took great loans, pawned both her own and other people's property, and forged signatures, among others that of her director Carl Stenborg, who often made loans to his actors and never demanded to be paid back. She made personal bankruptcy in 1789 and in 1794 and applied to be released from her debts on the grounds that she was not of legal maturity. This relieved her of her creditors but not her debts, and she was arrested three times in 1796 for having pawned borrowed objects.

This had no effect on her great popularity. In 1798, Lisette Stenberg was welcomed back from Copenhagen with great relief.

Later life

In 1798, the new monopoly of the royal theatres was proclaimed in Stockholm, and as a consequence, the Stenborg Theater was closed down in 1799. The staff were fired. Many of the actors joined traveling theatre companies. Lisette Stenberg is listed as one of the actors performing in Gothenburg and Norrköping in 1800 in the Lindqvist theatre troupe. Some of the actors from Stenborg Theatre where hired at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, and it is thought that the reason for way Lisette Stenberg was not, despite her fame and unquestioned talent as an artist, was because of her scandals.

She received great praise in Gothenburg for her voice, her mimique, her posture and gesture by the critics, who claimed that "there is no possibility for any actress to perform the part better." It was said that she deserved all the applause she received in the capacity of a singer. Her last recorded performance was on 7 May 1800, in Norrköping. After this, she lived an adventurous life.

In 1813, Stenborg was in Hamburg, Germany as a nurse to the French army of Napoleon. In 1816, she was in Paris in France under unclear circumstances. She was arrested for stealing clothes from Lagerbjelke along with one of the servants to the Swedish ambassador in Paris, Lagerbjelke, who was known to be a spy of the French police, were arrested for stealing clothes from Lagerbjelke. Stenberg was released.

She returned to Sweden in the 1820s and lived in Vänersborg under a French name, Madame Desvigné-Stenberg, claiming to be the widow of a Frenchman. She gave lessons in French and received a small pension from the French Queen of Sweden, Désirée Clary. She died in a poor house.


Lisette Stenberg Wikipedia

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