Carl Stenborg

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Carl Stenborg (8 September 1752 – 1 August 1813) was a Swedish opera singer, actor, composer and theatre director. He is considered the first great male opera singer in Sweden and one of the pioneers of the Royal Swedish Opera.


Carl Stenborg was born in Stockholm, to actor Petter Stenborg, the director of the Stenborg Troupe, and Anna Krüger (1710–1803). Of his brothers, Johan Fredrik Stenborg (1743–1813) studied at Uppsala University and became an official, and Nils Stenborg (d. 1780) became an opera singer. He received a good education, better than his father's, debuted as a concert singer in Riddarhuset in 1766 and was appointed councillor at the royal court in 1767. This was considered unusual, since his father was not of wealthy means. Carl's mother had been the housekeeper of the nobleman and statesman Adam Horn, with whom it was said that he had had a relationship, and that Carl, or one of his brothers, was his son, which was to be the reason to why the son's of a poor man had been able to receive such a good education and reach high positions so early in life.

When the Royal Swedish Opera was founded in 1773, he played the main male role in Francesco Uttini's opera Thetis och Pélée opposite the primadonna Elisabeth Olin, with whom he had a relationship.[1] He was the leading male star for several years and in 1780 was given a life contract. Although he sang tenor roles, his voice was known for its dexterity and dark timbre and was nearer to that of a baritone.[1]

Carl Stenborg was appointed Hovsångare in 1773, royal secretary in 1782 and was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1783. He was the director of his father's theatres in 1780–99; from 1788, he was allowed to perform in them. He was engaged in 1782 and in 1793 he married the singer Betty Olin, daughter of Elisabeth Olin, and performed with her in Copenhagen and Oslo in 1794 and 1795. The engagement had been long because of the unwillingness of Elisabeth Olin to give her consent to the marriage between her daughter and her own former lover. In 1784 Stenborg's opera Gustaf Ericsson i Dalarna premiered at one of his father's theaters. After the Stenborg Theatre was closed in 1799, he toured the country (1804–09) with his own company. He was given a pension in 1806. He gave his last performance at a concert on Riddarhuset 27 February 1808, "to the great surprise of everyone" opposite Elisabeth Olin, which now also gave her last performance, and Jeanette Wässelius, with music of the royal chapel, Johann Christian Friedrich Hæffner, Freidrich Müller and his own daughter, the pianist Carolina Stenborg (1798–1869). He died in Stockholm on 1 August 1813.


  1. ^ a b Bertil H. van Boer, 'Stenborg, Carl' in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell (eds), 2001
  • Nordisk familjebok / Uggleupplagan. 26. Slöke - Stockholm 1219-1220 on Project Runeberg.
  • Ingvar Andersson, Gustavianskt
  • "Kungliga operans repertoar, 1773-1973"
  • Anna Ivarsdotter Johnsson och Leif Jonsson, "Musiken i Sverige, Frihetstiden och Gustaviansk tid 1720-1810."
  • Gidlunds förlag, "Ny svensk teaterhistoria. Teater före 1800."
  • Johan Flodmark, Stenborgska skådebanorna