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[secondary title]

The tradition of giving dramatic works alternative titles is an old one, belonging initially to spoken theatrical works. Most Shakespeare plays have alternative titles. Normally, the ‘alternative title’ is not a genuine alternative but is intended to be read alongside the principal title and to elucidate it or elaborate upon it. Examples are Campra’s Aréthuse, ou La vengeance de l’Amour (1701); Arne’s Thomas and Sally, or The Sailor’s Return (1760); Mozart’s Il dissoluto punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni (1787) and his Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (1790); Rossini’s Almaviva, ossia L’inutile precauzione (better known as Il barbiere di Siviglia, 1816) and Otello, ossia Il moro di Venezia (1816); Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot, oder Die Novize von Palermo (1836); and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, or The Lass that Loved a Sailor (1878).

True alternative titles may also be found, particularly in the 18th century, when an opera was revised for a later performance. Cimarosa’s ...

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Murray Lefkowitz

A comic or grotesque interlude in a Masque , normally preceding the terminal dances of the masquers. There were usually more than one and they consisted of a variety of spoken dialogue, pantomime, singing and dancing. Unlike the grand masquing dances, which were performed by a group of nobility from the floor of the hall, antimasques were usually danced by professional actors from the stage.

In contrast to the serious matter of the main masque (allegory, mythology, deus ex machina) the themes of the antimasques concentrated on mundane humour and the bizarre: the low-class comedy of beggars, cripples and drunkards, housewives and shopkeepers, barmaids and chimney-sweeps, foreigners, criminals, soldiers and common labourers; the pantomimed antics of dancing birds, bears, cats, apes and baboons; and the fantastical capers of furies, witches, spirits, sprites, satyrs and other magical beings. The spoken burlesques, usually in low prose, often imitated folk characters and situations, as well as ...

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M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet

[ballet en action, ballet pantomime; pantomime ballet] (Fr.)

A stage work in which a dramatic story is conveyed through gesture, dance and instrumental music. It developed in part as a reaction against the divertissement in opera, in which dance is designed to delight the eye and depict a general mood, and the opera-ballet, where vocal music has an important role and plots are loosely constructed. Some consider it as analogous to the ‘reform opera’ of Gluck. Key exponents in France in the second half of the 18th century and the first part of the 19th were the choreographers Jean-Georges Noverre, Gaetano Vestris and the Gardel brothers. Their successors, among them Pierre Aumer and Filippo Taglioni, followed this tradition, and with changes in technique and costuming are credited with the creation of the Romantic ballet....

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Gillian M. Rodger

(b London, England, Feb 1834; d New York, NY, April 11, 1905). American composer, theater orchestra director, and arranger. Born in London’s East End, Braham’s musical education was gained largely through his early education at the British Union School. He initially played the harp, but switched to the violin and became a skilled performer by the time he was 18. Rather than embarking on a career as a professional musician, Braham became a brass turner, making tubing for brass instruments, and supplemented his income by performing in theatrical orchestras in the evenings. In 1856, in the wake of a cholera epidemic that took his mother’s life, he emigrated to New York, where he quickly found employment in theater orchestras. By 1857 he was a regular member of the orchestra attached to Matt Peel’s Campbell Minstrels, and remained with this company, despite personnel conflicts and the reforming of the troupe under a modified name, until ...

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Commercial name for the New York theater district. Few of the theaters are actually on Broadway, but many are in the Times Square area. The “Broadway” designation as a term, according to Actor’s Equity, refers to a theater with at least 500 seats; off-Broadway houses are smaller.

See Musical theater.

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John Rosselli

Opera does not readily lend itself to being sung by pre-adolescent children: their voices may sound sweet in church but are rarely strong enough to hold their own in a theatre among those of adults. Child characters are accordingly few and hard to cast: Yniold in Pelléas et Mélisande, whose childishness is insisted upon, usually sounds weak if sung by a treble, and looks buxom if by a woman; worse difficulties arise with the two important child characters in The Turn of the Screw, where Miles must be a treble and Flora a soprano older than the character. The Three Boys of Die Zauberflöte are in practice most often sung by women. Choruses of children are not uncommon: Act 1 of Carmen provides a well-known example.

Up to 1830–40, when orchestral writing in opera grew heavier, light voices could cope with many parts. Average life expectancy was about half that of today and young people started careers earlier. An opera début between 16 and 19 was common for women and, in Italy, for castratos, whose vocal development had not been interrupted by puberty. Some (such as Girolamo Crescentini) began as early as 13 or 14, but these were regarded as young adults. The cult of children in the theatre flowed from the new sense, identified with Rousseau, of childhood as a special and valuable stage. Spectacular 19th-century opera productions often used children as dancers or extras to rouse sentiment or amusement, whether the story called for them or not – a practice kept up by some modern opera houses even though the engagement of child performers is now strictly regulated by law, alternative casts have to be used and, in Britain, a children’s adviser employed. These regulations had to be fought for over many years against the public’s tendency to regard children as ‘cute’ without inquiring into their conditions of work....

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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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Judith A. Sebesta

(b Akron, OH, Sept 24, 1902; d New York, NY, Oct 7, 1986). American producer. After graduating from Smith College, Crawford moved to New York to pursue further training in acting at the Theatre Guild, where she performed in two productions before abandoning her acting career. During her time at the Guild, Crawford met Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg; in 1931, the triumvirate formed the influential Group Theatre, for which she directed five productions and developed the musical Johnny Johnson (1936) with Kurt Weil and Paul Green. She resigned from the company to focus on producing, to which she dedicated the remainder of her career. Her most celebrated productions include many musicals, such as Porgy and Bess (1942), One Touch of Venus (1943), Brigadoon (1947), and Paint Your Wagon (1951).

As a producer, Crawford was valued for her keen management skills and financial acumen. In the face of great emotional difficulties—tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the destruction of her Connecticut home by fire, and embezzlement of personal funds by a trusted assistant—she continued to produce up to the final decade of her life....

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Curtain  

Edward A. Langhans

(Fr. rideau; Ger. Vorhang; It. sipario)

A hanging screen of cloth separating the stage from the auditorium, capable of being removed during the action, or any concealing drapery. The word is used by extension for the end of an act or scene, when the curtain might fall (hence the cue ‘curtain’) and the theatrical effect at the end of an act (hence ‘strong curtain’).

Though the ancient Greeks probably invented the theatrical curtain, its first certain use dates from Roman times, when it was hung before the scaenae frons and dropped as the performance began, revealing the splendour of the façade and whatever scenery was set up. The curtain, having fallen into a trough, could be raised on poles to conceal the stage again. This system was revived in Italian Renaissance theatres with their picture-frame stages, perhaps as early as 1515 (and it was used as a gag in the modern musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum...

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Gerald Bordman

revised by Jonas Westover

(b New York, NY, Sept 8, 1896; d New York, NY, July 30, 1983). American lyricist and librettist. He studied at Columbia University, where he was a contemporary of Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, and served in the US Navy before becoming director of publicity and advertising in 1919 for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation (from 1924 known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM). He wrote verse in his spare time, and was asked by Jerome Kern to supply the lyrics for Dear Sir (1924). He also worked with Vernon Duke, Jimmy McHugh, and Ralph Rainger. But he is best remembered for the numerous songs he wrote in collaboration with arthur Schwartz , beginning in 1929 with the revue The Little Show (with “I guess I’ll have to change my plan”). Other collaborations with Schwartz include Three’s a Crowd (1930) and The Band Wagon (1931, containing the hit “Dancing in the Dark”). Their professional relationship extended over a period of more than 30 years to the production of the musical ...

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Ellen Marie Peck

(b New York, NY, Jan 28, 1880; d New York, Jan 4, 1928). American lyricist, librettist, and actress. Born into a theatrical family, she spent her entire life in the theater. A meticulous actress, Donnelly was particularly known for her ability to interpret a role with depth and sensitivity at a rather young age, as she demonstrated with title roles in Candida (1903) and Madame X (1909). However, chronic illness and years of touring took an early toll on Donnelly, forcing her to transition to a writing career in her late 30s. In 1916 Donnelly penned the libretto for an Americanized German operetta, Flora Bella. She soon teamed up with composer sigmund Romberg , with whom she wrote some of the most successful operettas of the 1920s. Donnelly and Romberg enjoyed a close friendship and a symbiotic collaborative process, which lay behind the overwhelming success of ...

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James Leve

(b New York, NY, c8 April 1928–33; d New York, NY, Sept 11, 2004). American lyricist. He received a BA from New York University and a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University. In the 1950s he collaborated with Phil Springer and placed several song lyrics with record companies in the Brill Building. He also collaborated with Paul Klein on three musicals, one of which, Morning Sun, appeared Off-Broadway in 1963. Ebb’s first Broadway experience was as a contributor to the 1960 revue From A to Z.

He is best known for his work with john Kander , with whom he started working in 1962. Within months they had their first hit, “My Coloring Book,” which garnered them a Grammy nomination. Their collaboration lasted more than four decades and resulted in 13 Broadway musicals, including two produced after Ebb’s death. Their first, Flora, the Red Menace (...

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Ronald J. Zank

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 6, 1954). American performer, playwright and librettist. Fierstein grew up in New York and worked as an actor; he also pursued his interest in painting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He was both lead actor and playwright for Torch Song Trilogy, which originated off-off Broadway before transferring to off-Broadway and finally to Broadway (1982). He wrote the libretto for the musical adaptation of the French play and film La Cage Aux Folles (1983, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman), about a gay couple dealing with their son’s marriage into a conservative family. Fierstein also crafted the book for the short-lived Legs Diamond, a production that featured the songs and performance of Peter Allen as the title gangster. As a performer Fierstein originated the role of plus-sized mother Edna Turnblad in the musical ...

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Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(Lenore )

(b Statesboro, GA, March 18, 1975). American performer. Embodying the “triple-threat” performance model of singer, actor, and dancer, Sutton Foster enjoyed a rapid rise to musical theater stardom. Foster debuted on Broadway in 1993 as a chorus member and understudy for Eponine in Les Misérables (opened 1987), then played Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease (1994). She appeared in Annie (1997) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997). Foster created the role of Thoroughly Modern Millie’s Millie Dillmount in California tryouts in 2000. Despite being little-known, she was cast for the show’s Broadway (2002) opening; her performance earned Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical, and an Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer. Subsequently, Foster created the roles of Jo in Little Women (2005), Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone (...

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Gagaku  

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Judith A. Sebesta

(Simon )

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 25, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, Sept 11, 2009). American librettist. He began his prolific and diverse career at 16 writing for radio. After moving to television in the 1950s, he collaborated with such well-known early television actors as Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks. His career in that medium peaked with M*A*S*H, for which he wrote the pilot and subsequently wrote, produced, and occasionally directed the hit series. His screenwriting credits include Tootsie (1982) and Oh, God! (1977), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His librettos for A Funny Thing Happened on to the Way to the Forum (1962) and City of Angels (1989) both won Tony Awards. After Gelbart’s death from cancer in 2009, Jack Lemmon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen all named him the best American comedy writer they had ever known....