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Curtain, Gong, SteamWagnerian Technologies of Nineteenth-Century Opera$
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Gundula Kreuzer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279681

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279681.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Curtain

Curtain

Chapter:
(p.54) 2 Curtain
Source:
Curtain, Gong, Steam
Author(s):

Gundula Kreuzer

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520279681.003.0003

This chapter explores how the proscenium curtain, previously simply a spatial and temporal frame for the performance, increasingly mediated between sound and sight. In the late eighteenth century, Grétry and other composers had begun to align the curtain’s movements with both music and drama, and during the nineteenth century, the curtain became increasingly expressive. Thus, for example, an early opening curtain might allow for pantomimic scene-setting, while “delayed” curtains could mask diegetic sound. Rossini’s prematurely closing curtain conveyed continuing drama. Novel drop scenes masking mid-act transformations further expanded the curtain’s functions and shapes. In prescribing curtain tempi as atmospheric indictors, Wagner built on such practices, his heightened attention producing the flexible “Wagner curtain” at Bayreuth. Few composers subsequently omitted curtain directions, with Berg’s scores completing the curtain’s musicalization. It was consequential, then, that Brecht dismissed the full-length curtain in his battle against illusionist theater.

Keywords:   proscenium curtain, frame, André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry, scene change, Gioachino Rossini, Wagner curtain, Alban Berg, Bertold Brecht, illusionism

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