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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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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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Gagaku  

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Barry Millington

(Ger.: ‘total work of art’)

A term used by Wagner for his notion, formulated in his theoretical essays of 1849–51, of an art form that combined various media within the framework of a drama. Harking back to ancient Greek drama, he suggested that there the basic elements of dance, music and poetry had been ideally combined. Their division into separate genres had diminished their expressive force; only in the total work of art could they regain their original dignity. Similarly, the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting would recover their classical and authentic stature only as constituents of the ‘artwork of the future’.

The architect of the theatre of the future would be guided by the law of beauty and the dictates of intelligibility rather than by the demands of social distinctions. Sets would be executed by landscape painters, and the three sister arts would be reunited in the actor of the future, who would be dancer, musician and poet in one. The new work of art would be brought into being not by a single creative artist but by a fellowship of artists, in response to a communal demand. The artist of the future was thus the ...

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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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Paul R. Laird

[Lichtman, Joseph ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 3, 1931; d Key West, FL, May 5, 1994). American dancer, choreographer, and director. Layton joined the dancing chorus of Oklahoma! in 1947, followed by appearances as a dancer in such shows as High Button Shoes (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Miss Liberty (1949), and Wonderful Town (1953). While in the army in the early 1950s, Layton started to choreograph and direct. He spent two years in the mid-1950s in France as a dancer and choreographer with the Ballet Ho de George Reich. Returning to the United States in 1956, Layton was a featured dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s televised Cinderella (1957) and worked in summer stock. His New York choreography debut was an off-Broadway revival of On the Town (1959). Layton choreographed Once Upon a Mattress off-Broadway and then on Broadway and in London, and continued his work on Broadway with dances for ...

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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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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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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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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....

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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 ...