17th century opera: Exquisite elegance

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Feb 18, 2013 • 0 Comments

At 19, I walked into the Opera house for the first time and I could almost smell the dust in the red velvet curtains from the 17th century.   Romeo and Juliet sang in supernatural octaves and the audience’s emotion swelled with every high note. 

The opera began as royal entertainment in 17th century France.  Marriages and political visits were occasions when the opera would take place.  The royals called for these extraordinary productions to be performed during such occasions to impress other royals and dignitaries, to show off their power. 

Enchanting music, dance, lavish costumes and stage effects melded together to create this new form of upper-class entertainment.  Special effects on the set were created with ropes, pulleys, and counterweights. Stories and themes were taken from Greek and Roman mythology.

Opera had its beginnings in Italy and France.  The very start of it all is credited to an Italian group called the Camerata.  They were a group of writers, artists, and musicians who would meet up to discuss Greek tragedy.  In Italian, the word “opera” means “work.”  The word’s meaning is fitting, since every specific part of the opera is, and always has been so elaborate. 

The staging was no exception.  One thing that set opera staging apart from that of other musical performances was the audience participation – involving staged dances.  The first opera house was Teatra San Cassiano in Venice, which opened in 1637.  Large stage elevators would allow for the heavy sets to quickly be changed during performances.

The palpable emotion and exquisite elegance of the French Opera will transform the tone of your home.  If you have a room in your house that needs some spicing up, or even a home theater, you can decorate it with red velvet curtains and carved antique furniture to look like the opera.  Pictured above is a French Opera décor element from Provence.  Add this lovely piece, available from Le Louvre French Antiques right here to your opera themed room and who knows?  Your family and friends may surprise you with some hidden talent.

While you’re in opera decorating mode, scroll through the beautiful antique furniture we have available.  Happy Latiquing!