Posted by Tilde on October 07, 1997 at 10:01:27:
In response to Maybe we're not helping, written by Amy on September 10, 1997 at 14:25:19
] Also, I don't know where and when calling out "Brava!" came into practice, but someone here might.
In response to "when did "brava" come into use ?", I can't at the moment put an exact time on it, BUT, the word is feminine of "Bravo", and is used to hail FEMALE performers, mostly of the operatic field.
Until well into the 18th c. these persons hardly existed, but by the middle of the 18th c. we have the first prime-donne (first-lady, as opposed to primo-uomo, first-man) of the operatic field. Mozarts sister-in-law, was one of them (and some voice she had if the arias he wrote for her are anything to go by).
In the Papal states, females on stage was forbidden (As I remember it) well into the 19th c. and boys as well as castrato-singers were used for the female parts. (There actually is a recording of the last known living castrato singer. It is made around the turn of the century when the "man" was over 60, and is a most peculiar experience to hear. (It is found on a lovely set of records called "The Record of Singing", which also holds some Mozart arias sung by an elderly lady who was the pupil of the girl who sang Barbarina in the first performance of The Marriage of Figaro).
Casanova in his memoirs has a long line about his love-affair with a castrato-boy who is not a boy after all (and BTW Casanova is a fountain of knowledge on his time and age on the continent, far better than his reputation for naughty writing).
So, "Brava" (by inference, but I'll try to remember to look it up) is not generally in use before well into the 18th c.
But public performances in the early 19th c. are vastly different from what they are now.
Most opera-houses would have the floor, without seats, and then the boxes, that rich people bought, for the night or the season. One did not generally arrive at the time the curtain rose, but waited to come until the good parts arrived. One talked, ate, promenaded etc. during performance as well as during breaks.
For a performer to have the house go quiet during his or her performance was in itself quite a feat.
Operatic composers tried to teach people to come earlier, by putting some of the really good tunes at the beginning of the first act, but to no real avail for a long time. In Paris the members of the Jockey Club were notorius for insisting on having a ballet in the second act (they never arrived before anyway), and to have no ballets in the last two acts (by which time they had seen the goodies perform and were carrying them off to supper and more).
Verdi's Othello, as well as his Traviata in their Paris Opera version both have a ballet in the middle.
Wagner's Bayreuth-project sprang from a desire to have people seated before the opera started and to keep them in their places until it ended, and this was in the latter half of the 19th c.
Forgive my ramblings. This has become slightly long, but I'll send it anyway.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.