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Lyrique  

Article

John Rosselli

In opera as in the straight theatre, matinées (extra afternoon performances) became possible when the main performance time shifted from early afternoon to about 7 p.m. or later, in the second half of the 18th century. Opera matinées were, however, long seen as fit only for plebeian audiences. In Naples, the Bourbon government forbade them at the leading theatre, the S Carlo; but from 1817 at least they were common at small opera houses with lower-class audiences, not only on Sundays (when the working population was most likely to be free) but as part of a twice-daily schedule on other days. In Paris, the Sunday matinée became established from 1868 as the occasion for family visits to the national theatres, opera houses included; it has generally been favoured in continental and Latin American countries. In the English-speaking countries, where Sunday performances have at most times been ruled out by custom or by law, American opera companies have been readier than British to put on Saturday and sometimes other matinée performances of heavyweight works; the New York Metropolitan gave in ...

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Mary Helen Still

(b Charleston, MA, Feb 24, 1858; d New York, NY, May 3, 1897). American composer and actor. Often working with the librettist J. Cheever Goodwin, he produced several scores for Broadway productions in the 1890s. He studied harmony at the Boston Conservatory, and following his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he traveled to Paris and studied art under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Jean-Jacques Henner, among others. After returning to America, he began to compose musical plays and operettas. He convinced the producer Augustin Daly to underwrite his first musical play, Cinderella at School (1881), which, although a popular success, was not well received by critics. In 1884 he began to collaborate with Goodwin, and their partnership produced six crowd- and critic-pleasing operettas. His adaptation of Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’étoile (1890), produced by and starring the actor Francis Wilson, caught the attention of Richard D’Oyly Carte who engaged Ivan Caryll to further rework the operetta for the Savoy Theatre in ...

Article

Nicola Scaldaferri

[Gjergji, Ludovik Ndoj]

(b Shkodër, Albania, 11 Nov 1923; d Shkodër, 27 Dec 2015). Albanian singer. His name is linked in particular to the musical repertoire of Ahengu and Kânge Jare, songs in which Ottoman musical roots blend with Western influences.

Born into a family from the Mirdita region, from childhood he was interested in the urban song of Shkodër. Between 1945 and 1947, in Tirana, he came to the fore as a performer with the ensemble Grupi Karakteristik Shkodran directed by Paulin Pali. In 1947 he took part in the performance of Dasma shkodrane, by Prenkë Jakova, an important pioneer of Albanian musical theatre.

In the early 1950s Bik Ndoja emerged in the musical milieu of Shkodra by singing on the radio, in the House of Culture, and at the Perlat Rexhepi musical club.

During the years of the dictatorship, he continued to live in Shkodra and worked as a tailor, though his renown as a singer grew steadily, thanks to his activity at Radio Shkodra and Radio Tirana, and at the local ...

Article

David J. Hough

(b London, July 11, 1930; d Herefordshire, October 10, 2003). British designer . After studying with distinction at the Royal College of Art with Hugh Casson, she joined the BBC in 1955 as a television designer, remaining until 1967. She designed a number of distinguished theatre, ballet and opera productions between 1967 and 1988, including Yevgeny Onegin (1971), La bohème (1974; for illustration see) and Die Fledermaus (1977) for Covent Garden, and Arabella (1984) for Glyndebourne. International productions include Un ballo in maschera for the Hamburg Staatsoper (1973), Otello for the Royal Opera, Stockholm (1982), Die Csárdásfürstin for Kassel Opera (1983) and The Consul for Connecticut Opera (1985).

Oman was much admired by critics and audiences for the social and historical accuracy of her designs. Her costumes appeared as real clothes worn by real people, and her sets as places where people actually live, work and play. She stylishly and inventively combined the visually appealing with a particular care for detail that always served the dramatic needs of the work at hand. She was elected a Royal Designer for Industry (...

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Article

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. ...

Article

Edward A. Langhans

(Fr., Ger. souffleur; It. rammentatore, suggeritore)

One who assists performers with their lines and cues. In My Life in Art the Russian actor-director Constantin Stanisklavsky wrote:

If you look into the kennel of the prompter you are reminded of mediaeval inquisition. The prompter in the theatre is sentenced to eternal torture that makes one fear for his life. He has a dirty box lined with dusty felt. Half of his body is beneath the floor of the stage in the dampness of a cellar, the other half, at the level of the stage, is heated by the hundreds of lamps in the footlights on both sides of him. All the dust created at the rising of the curtain or the sweeping of robes across the stage strikes him square in the mouth. And he is forced to speak without stop during performance and rehearsal in an unnaturally squeezed and often strained voice so that he may be heard by the actors alone, and not by the spectators....

Article

Edward A. Langhans

[props] (Fr. accessoires; Ger. Requisiten; It. accessori; Sp. utilería)

Any objects used on stage that cannot be designated as costumes, scenery or lights: furniture, table lamps, food, flowers, carried spears, statuary and the like. A property may be as small as a snuff box or as large as a fabricated horse; it may be part of a costume (like a cap, which is a costume if worn but a prop if handled); it may be a personal or a hand prop, used by performers (carried, thrown, eaten from, read etc.); or it may serve only as trim or ‘dressing’ (such as pictures on a wall or chairs that are not used but decorate the stage and complete the design).

The dividing lines between properties, scenery and costumes are sometimes hazy. But the Scene Shop will usually see to the horse in Les Troyens, Siegfried’s anvil or a cannon, which are as much machines as props or scenic units, while the Costume Shop will probably take care of canes, sceptres, magic wands and Desdemona’s handkerchief. Many theatres have in-house departments for wigs, costumes, properties and scenery, but some have such shops scattered around town and/or use outside suppliers. Though some props can be purchased, many are specially designed and built, just as are costumes and wigs. Since most operas are set in past periods or realms of the imagination, they rarely call for modern costumes and properties. In his own day Mozart might have seen ...

Article

John Rockwell

An operatic work in which the musical idiom is rock and roll. Such works have little direct connection to the opera as traditionally understood. They do not use operatically trained singers; the sound is amplified; some of the more interesting examples were never intended for live performance.

If opera derives from the mainstream of the Western classical music tradition, then ‘rock operas’ are part of the far larger alternative tradition of music-theatre works stemming from non-Western and vernacular musical cultures. They may eventually join the mainstream; they may borrow, sincerely, cynically or parodistically, the pretensions and cachet of mainstream nomenclature and styles, but for now they remain an outsider phenomenon. Rock itself, born of a marriage of lower-class American black and white musics, was in part a protest not only against standard Tin Pan Alley pop music, but against high art as well (in the words of Chuck Berry’s song, ‘Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news!’)....

Article

Theatre in Venice, built by the Grimani in 1678. The largest and most exclusive opera house in the city, it was renamed after Malibran in 1834, then used for all kinds of popular entertainment; it was restructured in 1919 but soon became a cinema. See Venice (opera) §3 and Venice (opera) §8...

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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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Teatro  

Article

Theatre  

Article

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....

Article

Ticket  

Richard Macnutt

(Fr. billet; Ger. Billet, Eintrittskarte; It. biglietto, bolletino, tessera

A pass giving admission to a theatre or hall; stamped or engraved on metal (sometimes silver, regularly copper, bronze, brass, lead or tin), engraved on ivory or bone, or printed on thin card or paper. Research into this topic is still at a preliminary stage.

It is known that the first public opera house, the Teatro S Cassiano in Venice, had from 1637 both a subscription system and admission by single ticket, but no example of a ticket appears to survive. In London, the earliest known theatre tickets were circular metal ‘checks’. Bronze or brass checks are extant from two theatres on Bankside, the Bear Garden (in use c1585–1682) and Swan (c1595– c1632), and the Red Bull at Clerkenwell (c1605–63); none is dated, but the Red Bull checks state the parts of the theatre to which they give admittance. A silver check dated ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Bratislava, 16 Oct 1981). Slovak composer, saxophonist, and improviser. Studied composition at the University of Performing arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) (with Jevgenij Iršai and Vladimír Godár) and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (with Michal Rataj), as well as musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

He is unusual in the Czecho-Slovak context for the breadth of his musical and cultural interests – eclecticism and a Schnittkean polystylism are the only unifying elements of his work, perhaps together with relentless demands on the listener’s emotions (in one direction or another). His earlier works betray the influence of Schnittke in their rapid changes and distressed emotiveness interspersed with moments of (ironic?) grandeur, while at other times, his use of explosive improvisation and a range of stylistic contexts brings John Zorn to mind.

He has a close relationship with theatre, both in his operas and video-operas – often made in collaboration with the actor, director, and librettist Marek Kundlák – and in his instrumental music, which doesn’t shy away from theatricality and make-believe. He often treats musics as cultural phenomena, mindful of their history and current position, unafraid to appropriate and explore what he calls the emptied-out or sketched-out worlds that remain in music after the 20th century....

Article

Unities  

Roger Savage

An important issue in dramatic, and hence operatic, criticism from the late 16th to the late 18th centuries. Severe classicistic and rationalistic critics, beginning with Castelvetro (Poetica d’Aristotele, 1576), felt that they had the revered Aristotle’s authority for preaching two ‘unities’, of plot and of time-scale, for drama. A proper play, they held, must contain just one coherent action, to which everything manifestly contributes; and this action must work itself through in a single fictive day. Various factors, such as the shortness of the distances characters could be expected to travel in one day, and the existence on several 16th-century Italian court stages of permanent or semi-permanent Vitruvian sets representing a single street in perspective, made it attractive to add a third prerequisite: that the action of the play should be set throughout in one place. From all this emerged the Rule of the Three Unities – action, time, place – which, if followed with skill, was thought by many to be capable of ensuring a verisimilitude both classical and natural....