Elisabeth Forsselius

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Elisabeth Forsselius
Born Gertrud Elisabeth Forsell
23 January 1771
Died 15 February 1850 (age 79)
Other names Elisabeth Haeffner, and Elisabeth Fahlgren.
Spouse(s) Johann Christian Friedrich Haeffner and Johan Jacob Fahlgren.

Gertrud Elisabeth Forsselius (Forsell), later Elisabet Haeffner and Elisabet Fahlgren, (23 January 1771 – 15 February 1850), was a Swedish opera singer and actor, married to the German-born Swedish composer Johann Christian Friedrich Haeffner, and the actor and singer Johan Jacob Fahlgren. She belongs to the circle of actors that is often talked about and mentioned in history books as the pioneer generation of Swedish actors at the Royal Dramatic Theatre.

Biography and career[edit]

Elisabeth Forsselius was employed at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1783, and at the Ristell Theatre in Bollhuset by Ristell in 1787, which was converted into the Royal Dramatic Theatre in 1788. She married Haeffner the same year. Forsselius was appreciatied both as a singer within opera, and as an actress within theatre. She was considered an excellent dramatic actress particularly within comedy, and she was frequently used for so called soubrette - and boy's breeches roles, where she was described as terrific, and continued to play teenagers until her last years at the stage.

She played Anna in Siri Brahe och Johan Gyllenstierna by Gustav III in 1788 and 1790 and the title role of Minna von Barnhelm by Lessing in 1793. Among her other parts were Sidonie in Armide by Gluck in the season 1786–1787, Ismene in Elektra (by Hæffner) in 1787–1788, Delia in Les trois sultanes, a play by Favart in 1789–1790, Weakness in Alcides inträde i världen in 1793–1794 and Armide in Renaud (both also by Hæffner) in 1800–1801, and the marchioness in Griselda by Friedrich Halms in 1809–1810[citation needed].

In 1788, Forsselius became a member in the actors board of directors of the Royal Dramatic Theatre until 1803. As a member of the board, she is, in the report of Armfelt, who observed the board meetings as a representant for the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, described as someone who let her personal feelings towards the other members affect her votings. If this is true, she was far from the only one doing so; these sessions were reputed for and often described as chaotic and stormy.

Forsselius divorced Haeffner in 1807, and remarried the singer Jacob Johan Fahlgren (1786–1848), a student of her husband, who had been their tenant, the year after. As many of her generation of actors and singers, she retired from both the opera and theatre after the season of 1810.

See also[edit]


  • http://runeberg.org/samlaren/1887/0074.html (Swedish)
  • Georg Nordensvan: "Svensk teater och svenska skådespelare från Gustav III till våra dagar. Första bandet, 1772-1842" (Swedish theatre and actors from Gustav III to our days 1772-1842) (Swedish)
  • "Svenska teaterns repertoar 1773-1973" (The repertoire of the royal theatre 1773-1973) (Swedish)
  • Kungliga dramatiska teatern 1788-1988 (The history of the royal dramatic theatre 1788-1988) (1988) (Swedish)
  • Thorsten Dahl: "Svenska män och kvinnor. Bok 3" (Swedish Men and women. Dictionary. Book 3) (Swedish)
  • Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (Swedish biographical dictionary) (Swedish)
  • Arvid Ahnfelt: Europas konstnärer (The artists of Europe) (Swedish)
  • Johan Flodmark: Stenborgska skådebanorna (The stages of Stenborg) (Swedish)