The age of the theatre
Set-design, mechanical stage-sets, costumes, sound and lighting all created the illusion of magic.
Set-design, mechanical stage-sets, costumes, sound and lighting all created the illusion of magic, providing entertainment and the opportunity to stage propaganda. Classical set-design was based on the Vitruvian system of genres: palace scenery for tragedy; a city view, streets or other venues for comedy; a bosco (a scene in the woods) and a landscape for pastoral or satiric plays. However, although theatre buildings were adapted for the new challenges posed by modern set-design or innovative theatrical machinery, both court and civil theatres did have more or less the same stylistic sections: stage (stage-sets, machinery); proscenium arch (if at all, separating the audience from the stage); and seating arrangements (U-shaped, horseshoe or oval) for the audience (parterre). This comprised rows of boxes (for the noble owner of a court theatre with a magnificent balcony), and a gallery (in public theatres, tiers of seats were for all social classes: high society was seated in the lower-gallery boxes; the upper- and upper-middle classes were in the galleries above and the lower classes were in the pit.
Old Residence Theatre
View of the Auditorium
Munich historic centre, Munich Residenz, Upper Bavaria, Germany
Architectural concept: Francois Cuvilliés the Elder (1695–1786); head of construction: Leonhard Matthäus Gießl (1707–1785), Francois Cuvilliés the Younger (1731–1777), Carl Albert von Lespilliez (1723–1796); stucco and former fresco: Johann Baptist Zimmermann (1680–1758); sculptures: Johann Baptist Straub (1704–1784) and workshop, Joachim Dietrich (1690–1735); joinery/ornamental carvings: Adam Pichler (c. 1690–1761); former stage construction: Giovanni Paolo Gaspari (1712–1775)
In this amazing horseshoe-shaped auditorium, the splendid princely box that served the Bavarian prince electors is embraced by 24 balconies in four rows. The audience is seated according to social status and rank: in the ground-floor boxes is the city nobility; on the first floor the court aristocracy; on the second floor the lower-ranking noblemen; and in the third circle, at the top, are the court officials.