Theatre During the Italian Renaissance (1500-1700)

Timeline created by jdonley2
  • Apr 13, 1519

    Catherine de' Medici is Born

    Catherine de' Medici is Born
    Born in Florence, she was the daughter of a Duke and eventually married King Henry II. After becoming queen, she introduced stylistic influences for the ballet, making Italian pageants part of the court. She made dance classes a requirement and were composed of small hops, curtsies and promenades. She knew how the performing arts could be used to show wealth and culture of the state. This made dance a valued political tool. The first ballet, "Ballet Comique de la Reine", was performed in 1581.
  • 1545

    Sebastiano Serlio Publishes "Architettura"

    Sebastiano Serlio Publishes "Architettura"
    Sebastiano Serlio was an Italian architect. His work, "Architettura", was a seven-volume commentary focused on architecture. The second of the series focuses primarily on theatre architecture and stage design. This was the first published works to feature theatre architecture during the Renaissance. He showed how to broaden the scenic space using lighting to create depth within an existing room, birthing the central perspective into theatre. He also used a sloping stage known as a raked stage.
  • 1545

    Commedia dell'arte First Performed

    Commedia dell'arte First Performed
    Commedia dell'arte is an improvised comedy in Italian theatres during the Renaissance. The plots were borrowed from classical literary drama and were usually performed on temporary stages and city streets. These comedies were presented by untrained and unmasked actors. The Gelosi were the most famous company who traveled performing and dominating for 36 years. Commedia grew to be the most influential theatre in the world and inspired silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
  • First Enclosed Theatre Opens

    First Enclosed Theatre Opens
    The Teatro Olimpico was the first permanent indoor theater. Constructed by Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect, in Vicenza. After his death in 1580, Vincenzo Scamozzi completed the building. The exterior is made of masonry and wood-trussed tiled roof. The interior boasts steep seats, sculpted figures, and a painted sky. It is lit by candles mounted to the walls. The flattened ellipse of seating and flat ceiling makes the speech carry through the entire theatre when the auditorium is full.
  • First Opera is Produced

    First Opera is Produced
    "La Dafne" was first performed privately during Carnival of 1598 at Jacopo Corsi’s palace, Palazzo Corsi, in Florence. The first opera had words by Ottavio Rinuccini and music by Jacopo Peri, some of which are lost today. Opera became a popular form out of efforts to reconstruct the relationship between melody and oration that was found in Greek tragedies. Opera combines music, dance, drama, spectacle and special effects. Throughout the next 400 years, this type of entertainment would expand.
  • Giacomo Torelli is Born

    Giacomo Torelli is Born
    Giacomo Torelli was known as “the great wizard”. He was born in Italy in 1608. This Italian stage designer and engineer created several innovations for theatre. He designed and constructed the Teatro Novissimo in Venice where he housed several machines. He developed a revolving stage and chariot-and-pole system to rapidly change settings for large sets. These machines provided the basis for many modern-day stage devices. His set designs for Andromède and the Teatro della Fortuna won him praise.
  • Teatro Farnese Officially Opens

    Teatro Farnese Officially Opens
    Teatro Farnese officially opened in 1628, ten years after construction began. This theatre in Parma, Italy was the first theatre built with a permanent proscenium arch. It is also the oldest surviving theatre with this structure. Placement of the arch at the front of the stage projected the illusion of perspective. More arches, lined with paintings and statues, were added to show depth. An open pit was used for dancing or even flooded with water. Stadium style benches lined the area for patrons.
  • Harlequin Becomes a Stock Character

    Harlequin Becomes a Stock Character
    Tristano Martinelli, born in 1557 in Italy, was the first actor known to have played Harlequin and was sought after in both Italy and France. Known as the "Master of Harlequin", he likely invented the mask for theatre and based it on a demonic figure from French legend. After his death in 1630, the Harlequin became a stock character known for being entertaining, quick, and often trying to impede his master's plan. This heartless role was often seen in comedies and is still seen as roles today.
  • First Public Opera House Opens

    First Public Opera House Opens
    The Teatro San Cassiano in Venezia gave public opera to the world. Opera was only performed among the royalty for the city’s wealthiest merchant families. This historic event ignited the rise in opera. Venice became known as the opera capital of the world. Within a year, four more public opera houses opened in Venice. Ten more opened by the end of the Renaissance. The Teatro San Cassiano was eventually demolished in 1812 because of reoccurring fires. Today, plans to reconstruct are in the works.
  • Pedro Calderón Dies

    Pedro Calderón Dies
    Pedro Calderón was an important playwright during the Renaissance. The death of him marked the end of the Spanish Golden Age where an estimated 30,000 plays were written. Spanish theatre didn’t return until the twentieth century. He was famous for the secular play “Life Is a Dream”. He contributed about 200 plays and was the master of the auto sacramentale. This form flourished after new rulers instituted The Inquisition, ensuring religious purity in Spain after Europe banned religious dramas.