by Christina Shelton, Estimator
The first theatre that an orchestra “pit’ was buried beneath and below the stage was in Bayreuth, Germany. The orchestra pit and theatre were designed by Richard Wagner. (http://bit.ly/history-the-orchestra-pit)
Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was a composer, theatre director, polemicist & conductor. “Wagner had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus” The Festspielhaus opened in 1876 and is still in operation today. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner)
In his preface to the publication of the poem of the stage festival drama “der Ring Des Nibelungen” Wagner wrote of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1863,
“…I would consider it especially valuable to ensure that the orchestra could not be seen….The importance of this will be clear to anyone who has attended an opera performance with the aim of gaining a true impression of a work of dramatic art and who is inevitably made an unwilling witness of technical processes that ought to remain almost as well concealed as the cords, ropes, laths and boards of the theatre sets which, when seen from the wings, notoriously destroy all trace of illusion. Listeners ….are bound to form the most favourable opinion of the success of this acoustic and architectural arrangement of mine.” (http://bit.ly/der_ring_des_nibelungen)
Orchestra pits are not needed for performances that do not require an orchestra. Many theatres use the orchestra pit area as additional space when not in use.
Part two of this blog will review the various options available to theatre designers and operators as they consider orchestra pit covers.