THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


105 Joseph Urban 1872-1933
Stage model and drawings for Norma
Watercolor and pencil on paper and wood: model, 21 x 26 x 17 inches; drawings, 5.5 x 8 inches, 1927
The Austrian-born architect, theatrical designer and interior decorator Joseph Urban came to the United States in 1911 to work with the Boston Opera Company. The success of his innovative stage sets, combining the patterns of the Austrian Sezessionist movement with a lush, fairybook world, led to opportunities to design sets for the Ziegfield Follies and for Metropolitan Opera productions in New York, including those for Othello, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and the 1927 production of Vincenzo Bellini's masterpiece, Norma. Urban used the ruins of Stonehenge as the basis for his designs of the druid settings of Norma, especially in the Temple of Irminsul (Act IV, Scene 2); his dramatic use of color in this model and the three drawings for Acts II, III and IV reflects the themes of passion, betrayal and sacrifice in the opera.
Gift of Mrs. Joseph Urban

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