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Alfred Roller's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni : a break in the scenic traditions of the Vienna court opera

Author: Evan Baker, (Opera historian); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Publisher: 1993.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ph. D.)--New York University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 1993.
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript : State or province government publication   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
On December 21, 1905, the premiere of the new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni with a stellar cast took place at the Vienna Court Opera. Alfred Roller, Chief of Scenic Design and a leading member of the art movement Secession, designed the settings and costumes. The production was staged and conducted by Gustav Mahler, Director of the Vienna Court Opera. Reaction to the new production was swift: an enormous storm  Read more...
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Details

Named Person: Alfred Roller
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Government publication, Manuscript, State or province government publication
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Evan Baker, (Opera historian); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
OCLC Number: 809537603
Notes: Typescript.
Reproduction Notes: Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich. : University Microfilms International, 2012. xxviii, 248 p. ; 29 cm.
Description: xxviii, 248 leaves : port. ; 29 cm.
Responsibility: Evan Baker.

Abstract:

On December 21, 1905, the premiere of the new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni with a stellar cast took place at the Vienna Court Opera. Alfred Roller, Chief of Scenic Design and a leading member of the art movement Secession, designed the settings and costumes. The production was staged and conducted by Gustav Mahler, Director of the Vienna Court Opera. Reaction to the new production was swift: an enormous storm of controversy erupted in the Viennese press, chiefly about the staging and settings. Statements of condemnation and praise appeared in the newspapers for days. The influences of the Secession were charted, discussed, and debated. Complaints were raised against the high costs of the sets and costumes, and calls were made for the production to be removed from the repertory. Roller's designs for Don Giovanni were simple: four gray, austere, movable "towers," two on each side of the stage, provided the basic stage setting. These towers served as scenic decoration used either singly or combined in groups to create windows, balconies, doorways and gateways. Painted drops were also used, as well as a few simple scenic components on rolling wagons or platforms. Lighting played a significant role, since scenic painting was kept to neutral tones. There was little ornamentation, a stark contrast to past scenic and staging practices that were previously deemed "the tradition." The Viennese cognoscenti prided themselves on adhering to the theatrical tradition, and this new production had broken with it. The dissertation documents the Viennese scenic traditions and recreates Roller's iconoclastic production of Don Giovanni and the subsequent public reaction. The years between 1899 and 1905 were rich in the propagation of new and novel theories (particularly those of Adolphe Appia and Edward Gordon Craig), manifestos, designs, articles, and books which called for changes and reforms in the visual and scenic arts. The influences of these new theories and ideas and of the Secession upon the scenic and staging styles of the Vienna Opera are examined as well.

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