Stage & Scene | Stage Effects in Romantic Opera | Early Romantic | Opera
Spectacle and optical illusion were involved in opera stage settings from the start. Even the comparatively intimate Baroque operas, while musically âbalancedâ and ârestrainedâ, relied heavily on visuals. In Romantic opera, the music itself acquired more drama and more atmosphere so that stage settings had to increase their impact to match. In Italy, for example, cunning use of backdrops and receding arches made the stage appear deeper than it really was. In Paris, popular theatres were quick to modernize, with more elaborate lighting, scenery and stage effects, together with historically accurate costumes. Except for the introduction of gas lamps for stage and front-of-house lighting in 1822, the conservative Paris OpĂ©ra held back. Eventually, in 1827, a committee was formed to look into new ways of staging opera. Before long, the OpĂ©ra acquired extra changes of scenery, correctly dressed choruses and non-singing performers to fill out processions on stage. One important innovation was the method of double-painting scenery devised by the pioneer of photography, Louis Jacques MandĂ© Daguerre (1789â1851). This made it possible to transform scenery as the audience watched, by lighting it from different angles.
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