Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Curtain, Gong, SteamWagnerian Technologies of Nineteenth-Century Opera$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Gundula Kreuzer

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279681

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279681.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022



(p.54) 2 Curtain
Curtain, Gong, Steam

Gundula Kreuzer

University of California Press

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

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.