The Toy Becomes a Reality
|On Mid-summer's Eve its a little difficult to get the full effect of the illuminations - including the fiery torches|
burning at the corner's of the cupola - that have shown the way to Tivoli since the late 1800s.
When Copenhagen's Tivoli Pleasure Gardens opened in 1843 - as the Tivoli Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens - it was all very temporary. The license to operate had been granted to Georg Carstensen on the provision that the buildings could be easily removed. The Park was located on the old rampart grounds - the pond now surrounded by restaurants and amusements was once part of the protective moat - and as there had been war within recent memory the grounds had to be able to be cleared in a hurry should there be need.
|I couldn't find early prints of Tivoli but had these lithographs|
by Alfred Jacobsen from the cutout set he designed of the Pantomime Theatre.
They give an idea of the ambiance of the early days of the Park.
Vilhelm Dahlerup designed the Royal Theatre Bernhard Olsen, the new Park Director, commissioned him to design an outdoor theatre in the "Chinese" style and so the famous Pantomine theatre with its glorious Peacock curtain came into being. Dahlerup had never been to China but based his design on drawings given him by a Danish engineer who had worked in the Far East. The Peacock curtain originate when Olsen saw the effect at a Parisian variety house of a fan that folded and then sank into the floor and wanted something similar for his outdoor stage. Who came up with the idea of the peacock tail is unknown and the mechanics (requiring four men to operate and are still used to this day) were the work of an anonymous stage carpenter. As with many theatres at the time the rigging and mechanical system was based on methods used in the Navy and on sailing ships of the period.
Last month when I finally - after more than 40 years - got to see the Chinese Theatre I was immediately struck by how brightly coloured it was. My little model had a more subdued palette but as I could not find any early photographs of the Theatre I'm not sure if it was actually the case or if it was only the signature style of Alfred Jacobsen's lithographs. Looking at other play sets published by the renowned lithographer I think that may well be the case. If the colouring is somewhat different the design has obviously not changed a great deal in the past 130-odd years.
|The Chinese Theatre with its famous Peacock curtain in all its colourful glory - not quite|
like my little model but just enchanting and as wonderful as I had hoped it would be.
|Pleased to be here - ME? NO! Not me!|
|Even the sides of the theatre, containing dressing rooms and the mechanics for scene changes,|
continue the illusion of a Chinese Palace in the heart of Copenhagen.
|Anticipation builds as the Tivoli Pantomime Overture by Hans Christian Lumbye, Tivoli's resident composer in the early years, begins and the audience waits for the Peacock to unfold its wings.|
In the next few days I hope to have a video of bits and pieces of the lovely little pantomime we witnessed on our visit.
22 July - 1983: Martial law in Poland is officially revoked.