Renaissance theatre architecture
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RENAISSANCE THEATRE ARCHITECTURE. by Virginia R. Francisco. Italian Practice is Major Influence . productions began 1470 but only on special occasions in temporary theatres. Emphasis on Scenery. even Serlio assumes no permanent building a theatre burned in Ferrara 1532

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Renaissance theatre architecture l.jpg


by Virginia R. Francisco

V. R. Francisco

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Italian Practice is Major Influence

  • productions began 1470

  • but only on special occasions

  • in temporary theatres

V. R. Francisco

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Emphasis on Scenery

  • even Serlio assumes no permanent building

  • a theatre burned in Ferrara 1532

  • but not known to be permanent

V. R. Francisco

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Temporary Theatres in Halls

  • stadium-like seating around an orchestra

  • used to seat royal party

  • raised stage at ruler's eye level

  • front stage flat for actors

  • rear raked for scenery

V. R. Francisco

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Scenery Not Meant to be Changed

  • Serlio’s 3 scenes were to be enough for all plays

V. R. Francisco

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Development of Permanent Theatres

  • after 1550: the Baroque Era

  • new concern for authority

  • return to orthodoxy

  • under growing pressure from Protestantism

V. R. Francisco

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Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza

  • oldest surviving permanent theatre in Europe

  • built 1585 by Olympic Academy, founded 1555

  • specialized in Greek dramas

  • formerly produced on temporary stages

V. R. Francisco

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Teatro Olimpico Designed by Palladio

  • a member of the Olympic Academy

  • student of Vetruvius and of Roman ruins

V. R. Francisco

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Teatro Olimpico

  • in existing building

  • necessarily semi-elliptical seating

  • around a small orchestra


V. R. Francisco

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Stage and Scenery

  • rectangular stage

  • fixed facade with 5 openings

  • modified by Scamozzi

  • street scenes in perspective

V. R. Francisco

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Teatro at Sabbionetta

  • designed by Scamozzi, 1588

  • first purpose-built theatre building

  • designed as one unit

V. R. Francisco

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The Proscenium Arch

  • purpose is masking scene changes

  • served by downstage angle wings and border

  • early proscenium arches were temporary

  • oldest extant evidence is drawing

  • Bartolomeo Neroni, 1560

V. R. Francisco

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Permanent Proscenium Arches

  • early at Uffizi court theatre, Florence, 1586

  • designed by Bartolomeo Neroni

  • destroyed in c. 18

V. R. Francisco

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Teatro Farnese at Parma

  • designed by Giovani Battista Aleotti, 1618

  • first used 1628

  • first surviving theatre with permanent proscenium arch

  • two more arches upstage

  • Auditorium Like Other Court Theatres

  • U-shaped stadium seating

  • large open orchestra

V. R. Francisco

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Box, Pit, and Gallery Auditoria

  • used in middle ages in temporary theatres

  • used in London (1567), Paris (1558), Madrid (1579) public theatres

V. R. Francisco

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Corrales in Spain

  • Madrid, several temporary, 1570’s


  • Almagro, n.d., now restored


V. R. Francisco

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Standardized by Public Opera Houses

  • and professional opera troupes

  • first public theatre, San Cassiano, Venice, 1565

  • Opera of SS Giovanni e Paolo, Venice, 1639

  • plan is first extant evidence of bpg auditorium

  • five levels of galleries

  • first two divided into boxes

  • parterre

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Venice Public Opera House

  • Box, pit, and gallery auditorium

  • Proscenium arch stage

  • Wing, drop, and border scenery

  • La Fenice, 1789


V. R. Francisco

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Surviving Renaissance Theatres

  • Drottingholms Slottsteater, 1766, Sweden


  • Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

  • 1680, reconstructed and equipped 1765


V. R. Francisco