On this day: the premiere of Giselle in 1841

Carlotta Grisi as the first Act I Giselle (1842)

Carlotta Grisi as Giselle the year after the premiere

The Paris Opera Ballet (then the Ballet du Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique) premiered the romantic tragedy Giselle on the 28th of June 1841. The first performance featured Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi in the title role.

To this day Giselle is considered one of the most important ballets, and the role of Giselle is considered the Hamlet of ballet roles, as it is the most prestigious and dramatic, requiring good technique and superb acting skills.

The story is of a nobleman, Albrecht, who falls in love with a peasant girl, Giselle, and disguises himself as a commoner to be with her. When his real fiancée arrives, Giselle goes mad and dies, becoming one of the ghostly Wilis, spirits destined to spend eternity gaining revenge for their early deaths. Giselle manages to save Albrecht from this fate.

 

On this day: The world’s first adhesive postage stamp in 1840

On the 1st of May 1840, the world’s first adhesive stamp was issued in Great Britain.

Called the “Penny Black”, it featured a profile of Queen Victoria.

The stamp came into public use on the sixth of the month. This particular stamp was in production until February 1841.

The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year and features a profile of the Queen Victoria.