Stage & Scene | Mastery of Stage Design: Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri | Early Romantic | Opera
The artistry, ingenuity and creativity of Pierre Cicéri (1782–1868), the greatest designer in early nineteenth-century France, made him an almost legendary figure in the world of Romantic opera. Originally, Cicéri trained as a singer, but turned to painting and became an assistant at the Paris Opéra in 1806. When he graduated to stage design, he made use of the latest technological innovations, for example using gaslight for Isouard’s Aladin, ou La lampe merveilleuse (‘Aladdin, or the Marvellous Lamp’, 1822). Cicéri’s instinctive appreciation of architecture and sense of history enabled him to create on-stage panoramas wonderfully keyed into the grandiose drama of French grand opéra. For Auber’s La muette de Portici (‘The Dumb Girl of Portici’, 1828) he constructed a view of Vesuvius and its surrounding countryside and used carefully controlled fireworks to simulate a volcanic eruption. Cicéri devised a mobile panorama, in which a backcloth was turned on a revolving drum, gradually unwinding a scene so that a boat, static on stage, looked as though it was sailing along a river. The same device, when used in Auber’s Le lac des fées (‘The Lake of Fairies’, 1839) simulated a descent from the sky down to Earth.
Introduction | Early Romantic | Opera
Stage & Scene | Stage Effects in Romantic Opera | Early Romantic | Opera
Houses & Companies | Paris Opéra | High Romantic | Opera
Techniques | French Grand Opéra | Early Romantic | Opera
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