The decorations were used to transform these sites into imaginary worlds for the duration of the feast, festival or performance.
There were a range of public or private spaces, both outdoor and indoor sites, for the use of festivals and theatre. Some were reserved for the court while others were used by civic society: the streets and squares of cities, gardens, large halls in palaces and so on. For the event, these sites were decorated with ephemeral structures, illuminated and decorated with skilful apparati (these were often firework machines), illuminations and magnificent textiles, while the performers wore splendid costumes or masques. The decorations were used to transform these sites into imaginary worlds for the duration of the feast, festival or performance. Theatre design and technology (artistic solutions, tools and effects) had huge impact on municipal art and architecture: practitioners used their skills honed within the theatrical/festive arena to find solutions in urban planning and architecture and translated their innovations to the decorative schemes in churches and palaces. Some urban venues became frequent sites for festive events.
Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Piazza del Popolo
Rome, Latium, Italy
Carlo Rainaldi; Gian Lorenzo Bernini; Carlo Fontana
Via del Corso was dreamed up by Pope Paul II as a route for festive events and palii, horse races. At the end of this major thoroughfare, the churches appear like a grandiose frons scaneae or a monumental proscenium arch, behind which opens up the great stage of the Piazza del Popolo. The magnificent square has hosted many solemn entries of popes and royal guests (Bernini created an ephemeral triumphal arch with inscriptions for the solemn entry (ingresso) of Christina of Sweden in 1655, commissioned by Pope Alexander VII). Carnivals have taken place at the site, and Napoleons army even processed on floats towards via del Corso.