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Beata Sabina Åberg

?1773-04-21

Actor, royal housekeeper

Beata Sabina Åberg became the first professional Swedish actress when she performed in 1737 at Bollhuset in Stockholm in the role of Lotta Enterfelt, in the first original Swedish play.

The first Swedish troupe at Stora Bollhuset had only engaged male actors, and as was customary, men played the roles of women. For that first trial performance with its premiere in 1737, two women had however been engaged, of whom Beata Sabina Åberg was one. Of the other nothing is known apart from the fact that she was sacked. Thus Beata Sabina Åberg became the first Swedish woman to be known by name as an actress.

Beata Sabina Åberg’s origins and year of birth are unknown. She was born Straas and is listed as living and working in the household of the deceased county governor and physician Urban Hjärne, where she arrived in 1727. Her brother was probably Eric Johan/Jonas Straas, a royal footman and married in 1737 to Catharina Höppner. Beata Sabina Åberg was later employed as a chamber maid to the maid of honour Josepha Pflueg/Pflugk from Austria, and later to Antoinetta Dorotea Rindsmaul. In 1737, she married Anders Åberg, a valet. It is possible that Beata Sabina Åberg, via her contact with Antoinetta Dorotea Rindsmaul, came into contact with the theatre troupe that through Birger Hildon was included in the first troupe. He was a lodger in Antoinetta Dorotea Rindsmaul’s house.

It was probably in the first Swedish comedy ever, in October 1737, Swenska sprätthöken, that she appeared in the main female role of Lotta Enterfelt. The play describes Lotta Enterfelt as the rich widow of a recently ennobled husband, who after her husband’s death is courted by two men, Count Hurtig, a playboy interpreted by Johan Palmberg, and Baron Stadig, played by Birger Hildon. The play takes up the contemporary criticism against cultural “frenchification” and also discusses equality between the old and new aristocracy. The play was written by the politician Carl Gyllenborg. Beata Sabina Åberg also played Melinda in Den otacksamme by Gyllenborg and performed in Olof Dahlin’s play Brynhilda eller den olyckelige kärleken. She also performed as Ramborg in Dahlin’s play Den afvundsjuke, from 1738, on that occasion together with the first Swedish ballet troupe.

There are few assessments of Beata Sabina Åberg by her contemporaries. However, Carl Gustaf Tessin describes her in a letter as possessing natural talent and managing to dress well, as well as behaving better than the German actresses but worse than the French ones. Also, her debut had been a success and she had pretty feet.

Beata Sabina Åberg’s career as an actress was brief, since the theatre closed in 1738 and even though it opened again in 1739, its future was uncertain. That same year, she left the stage and for a few years, from 1739 until 1744, ran a coffee house together with her husband. In 1744, Beata Sabina Åberg was appointed to a position at the court of the Crown Prince and his wife, while her husband was appointed as a senior official. She remained at the court until her death.

It is not known for certain whether or not the couple had children, but Jonas Åberg, a footman and head of finances may probably have been their son. He in his turn became the father of the well-known actor siblings Inga Åberg and Gustaf Åbergsson. This fact is however not confirmed. Beata Sabina Åberg died in 1773.


Marie Steinrud
(Translated by Margaret Myers)


Published 2021-02-17



You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Beata Sabina Åberg, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/BeataSabinaAberg0, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Marie Steinrud), retrieved 2021-10-28.




Other Names

    Maiden name: Straas
    Alternate name: Strass
    Nickname: Madam Åberg


Family Relationships

Civil Status: Widow
  • Mother: [Uppgifter saknas]
  • Father: [Uppgifter saknas]
  • Brother: Eric Jonas, även Johan, Straas
more ...


Activities

  • Profession: Anställd i Urban Hiernes hushåll
  • Profession: Kammarjungfru hos Josepha Pflueg, senare Antoinetta Dorotea Rindsmaul
  • Profession: Skådespelare, Stora Bollhuset
more ...


Contacts

  • Colleague: Johan Palmberg
  • Colleague: Magdalena Wikman, även Wickman
  • Colleague: Cornelia, även Christina, Lund
more ...


Residences

  • Stockholm
  • Österrike
  • Place of death: Stockholm


Sources

Literature
  • Byström, Tryggve, Svenska komedien 1737-1754: en studie i Stockholmsteaterns historia, Norstedt, Stockholm, 1981

  • Christensson, Jakob (red.), Signums svenska kulturhistoria. Frihetstiden, Signum, Lund, 2006

  • Forser, Tomas & Heed, Sven Åke (red.), Ny svensk teaterhistoria. 1: Teater före 1800, Gidlund, Hedemora, 2007