Bayreuth Festspielhaus

   The Festival Theater of Bayreuth in Bavaria is a testament to Richard Wagner's ideas about illusionism. The structure had profound influence on both theater architecture and technical practice in the years subsequent to its construction, which was completed in 1876. Wagner demanded stage space and machinery at a "mystical remove" from audience members sitting in the auditorium, which resulted in a duplicate proscenium wall; he also called for an orchestra pit out of sight from the audience, which resulted in a stage apron far longer in extension than was the normal practice. The stage apron indeed covered the orchestra pit almost entirely and allowed more stage area for performers. A series of pipes mid-stage fitted with steam vents created a "steam curtain" for mist and fog effects, effectively masking scene changes. Most significant was Wagner's insistence on a "democratic" form of audience seating, which necessitated a fan-shaped auditorium, no center aisle, and good sight lines from every seat in the house. Many theaters in Germany during the 1880s and 1890s underwent renovations to accommodate Wagner's operas, resulting in improved facilities for performances of spoken drama as well.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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