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John Rosselli

Though the term has at times been used of Travelling troupes , in English it is more often applied to groups of singers who put on opera in a single theatre.

In Italy, where public opera was for many years given only during a season of about two months, a company was as a rule the group of singers contracted for that season only, most of whom moved on after it had ended. At most, the Naples royal theatres (S Carlo and Fondo) between about 1740 and 1860 engaged artists for a year. Opera houses capable of fielding two groups of soloists (the S Carlo and La Scala, Milan, in most years) were said to have a ‘double company’. After the breakdown of the seasonal system in the late 19th century a company was a group assembled, however briefly, to perform an opera or operas ( see Season ).

In Central Europe, where opera was long centred on courts, companies were more nearly permanent. At Eszterháza during Haydn’s tenure the median length of stay of Italian singers was between two and three years, but German singers stayed much longer (as did a very few Italians). Haydn could therefore count on a known array of (by and large mediocre) resources. In Paris, singers engaged by the opera houses under royal or, after the Revolution, government patronage were paid monthly salaries and approximated to the condition of civil servants; some stayed on for many years. Provincial French opera houses from the late 18th century to the early 20th usually engaged a company once a year for a season that might last from four to ten months. Much the same was and to some extent is still true of Central Europe. Since the 1950s, however, singers have been highly mobile; even those formally attached to a company (those of the two London opera houses included) may at times perform elsewhere....

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M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet and Thomas Bauman

Both universalist and emphatically humanist in outlook since its founding in 1540, the Society of Jesus has always functioned as one of the principal educational arms of the Catholic Church and the papacy. This role developed most fully in the colleges and seminaries established by the Jesuits in Catholic lands. Here instruction stressed not only theology and philosophy but also literature. As early as the 16th century, dramatic representations were staged at these institutions, drawing together elements from the humanist theatre, medieval mystery plays and Shrovetide entertainments. The Bible served as the basic source material, but secular and often local subjects were used too, invariably with a strong emphasis on the allegorical and symbolic, and music often had an important role.

Early examples of Jesuit drama with music are recorded from the Low Countries (Josephus by Georg Maropedius, given in 1544 in Antwerp and published in Utrecht, 1552–3), Spain (...

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Edward A. Langhans and Robert E. Benson

Edward A. Langhans and Robert E. Benson

Modern assumptions – that an audience usually sits in a darkened auditorium watching a brightly lit stage – apply only since the late 19th century. Before then, the audience normally sat in a house that was dimly lit, peering at a dimly lit stage, and earlier still spectators needed individual candles in the light of which they could read their librettos (or other literature). Period prints showing brilliantly illuminated stages and auditoriums are misleading. It has been estimated that at Drury Lane Theatre in London during the 17th and 18th centuries there may have been about 88 candles in the auditorium, giving a total illumination approximately equivalent to one 75-watt lamp.

When Renaissance theatrical performances began to take place indoors, in academies and palace banquet halls in late 15th-century Italy, the illumination came from oil lamps and candles in chandeliers and sconces (and, if it was daylight outside, windows). Revived classical plays made use of the new Renaissance toy, perspective scenery. In his ...

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Poster  

(Fr. affiche; Ger. Plakat; It. manifesto, cartello, cartellone)

A placard or ‘great bill’, normally printed in eye-catching style, to be displayed in prominent positions for the purpose of announcing details of a forthcoming event and attracting the public. The word originates from the custom of attaching bills to the posts that marked the area for pedestrians in London streets before the Great Fire. ...

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Manfred Boetzkes, Evan Baker and Nicholas John

[scene design; scenography] (Fr. décor; Ger. Bühnenbild; It. scenografia)

Stage design represents the sum of the visual elements of theatrical production combining all forms of scenery, lighting, makeup and costumes (and sometimes the actual space in which the production is presented) to create an illusion of a place, space and time. Stage design is an ephemeral theatrical art, capable of realizing its full potential only in the context of a performance. Not only is stage design governed, to a certain extent, by the requirements of both the libretto and the music, but also by the political, economic and social demands of current modes of tastes of the society in which opera is performed. This was particularly true during the era of the French grand opéra.

For the purposes of this article, the discussion of stage design will be limited to the more commonly accepted concept of ‘scene design’; that is, the scenic elements of operatic production in which the visual attention of the public is focussed on to a predetermined acting space (or area) during the performance. For other information falling within the broader concept of stage design, ...

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Peter Kemp

Austrian family of dance music composers and musicians of Hungarian origin. Through a combination of melodic invention and masterly orchestral technique, allied to an astute sense of the commercial, they elevated 19th-century popular music, and especially the Viennese Waltz, to a consummate form.

Johann Strauss (b Vienna, March 14, 1804; d Vienna, Sept 25, 1849)

Johann Strauss (b Vienna, Oct 25, 1825; d Vienna, June 3, 1899)

Josef Strauss (b Vienna, Aug 20, 1827; d Vienna, July 22, 1870)

Eduard Strauss (b Vienna, March 15, 1835; d Vienna, Dec 28, 1916)

Johann Strauss (iii) (b Vienna, Feb 16, 1866; d Berlin-Schöneberg, Jan 9, 1939)

Eduard Strauss (b Vienna, March 24, 1910; d Vienna, April 6, 1969)

A Periodicals and journals. B Catalogues and bibliographies. C Lives and works: general studies. D Lives and works: particular aspects. E Stage works of Johann Strauss II....

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Edward A. Langhans

Edward A. Langhans

Although theatres for the performance of revived classical plays (chiefly comedies of Terence) and song-and-dance intermezzi were set up in academies and court banquet halls in the late 15th century, these were of an occasional nature. The earliest permanent theatre may have been one in Ferrara, Italy, which supposedly burnt down in 1532. The Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, the oldest permanent Renaissance theatre still standing, opened on 3 March 1585 with a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus tyrannus, translated into Italian, with choral and incidental music by Andrea Gabrieli. The original architect, Andrea Palladio, designed the Olimpico as a scaled-down and indoor Roman theatre, with an elliptical seating area of 13 tiers of bench-like structures and a wide, narrow stage with five entrances in an elaborate scenic façade. The theatre was completed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, who added permanent built-perspective vistas behind the doors. The theatre was not originally planned as an opera house, though only works of an operatic nature can hold their own there against the spectacular façade and perspectives. By the time the theatre opened, however, changeable scenery had been developed, and theatres equipped for such changes were better suited to musical theatre works....