Italy and France - 18th Century
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XI. Italy and France in the 18th Century

In the 18th century the Italians were heralded for their innovations in scenery and design. The proscenium arch, perspective settings, rapid shifting of scenery and special effects are all part of Italy's repertoire in the area of design. During the 1700s, the Bibiena family of Italy was lauded for creating angled perspective in set design as well as for their alteration of the scale of settings. In Italy the primary concern was the visual and the importance of the spectacle. The Italian Piranesi was herald for introducing mood which was achieved through different lighting. Piranesi used light and shadow to create a certain emotional atmosphere. Italian comedy playwrights were Goldoni who wrote The Servant of Two Masters and Comic Theatre and Gozzi who wrote King Stag and The Magic Bird. One important Italian writer of tragedy was Vittorio Alfieri who sought to present the most powerful emotions in the simplest dramatic form.

France remained a cultural center in Europe during the 18th century and created a standard of drama in Europe that had not been matched. In France Voltaire was the most important writer of tragedy, while Maripaux was known for his comedic plays. Denis Diderot theorized on playwriting and came up with the four-walled convention. He wrote The Paradox of the Actor, in which he discussed his belief that an actor needs to give the impression of intense feeling, but not actually feel anything. Another important comedic writer was Pierre-Augustine Beaumarchais who wrote the popular The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. Two French actresses known for their famous feud were Clairon and Dumesnil. Dumesnil believed in the emotion of the moment and Clarion believed in studying her part. The most famous actor of this time was Raucourt; the greatest tragic actor of his time was Lekin.

France made architectural changes in 1763 after the Palais Royale burned. Productions were then moved to the Theatre des Tuileries which had been built in efforts to recreate the Palais Royale. Smaller boulevard theatres also began to acquire more elaborate buildings for their performances.

Links To Chapter 11

Voltaire

bulletVoltaire Foundation (at Oxford University)
bulletVoltaire biography

Denis Diderot

Beaumarchais

bulletBeaumarchais
bullet Beaumarchais

 

W.ild W.onderful W.orld of Theatre History

The purpose of this project is to show the highlights of different periods of theatre history, including plays, acting styles, staging convention, costuming, and playwrights. Web links have been provided so that students can find additional information on items of interest.

 

Origins of Theatre ] Theatre and Drama in Ancient Greece ] Roman and Byzantine Theatre and Drama ] European Drama in the Middle Ages ] Italian Theatre and Drama ] English Theatre Middle Ages to 1642 ] Spanish Theatre to 1700 ] Theatre in France--1500-1700 ] Theatre of the Orient ] English Theatre, 1642-1800 ] Italy and France - 18th Century ] Northern and Eastern Europe - 18th Century ] Europe & the U.S. - 19th Century ] Europe and the U.S. - Late 19th Century ] Modern Theatre, 1875-1915 ] Europe/ U.S. Between the Wars ] Europe and the U.S., 1940-68 ] Drama After 1968 ]

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