Opera houses, concert halls, and theaters are architectural monuments to a rich culture of performance arts. Traditionally performance environments have been done in warm palettes: red specifically but with lots of gold, orange and warm woods and stone. Its a color scheme usually called "Red Plush." For example, below is the newly reopened Bolshoi Theatre in Russia.
"Bolshoi" means "grand" in Russian, and the new theater fills the bill. Tapestries have been rewoven, crystal pendants in the main two-ton chandelier have been restored or replaced, and the balconies have been covered with gold leaf. Over 150 goldsmiths worked with the nearly 11 pounds of gold leaf used for the interior. From a box on the side of the stalls, security guards watched a rehearsal of "Ruslan and Ludmila." Here for more
Eastman Theater in Rochester, New York is also a classic example of the red plush grande drape and seating upholstery.
Though we have found very little direct evidence about why red plush came to be the dominate scheme or why it continues to be, there are a myriad of different opinions out there. The psychological profile of red associates the color with power, anger, blood, all things dramatic and dynamic. Red dyes were particularly difficult to produce during theater's renaissance revival. The dyes were very expensive and were perceived as opulent, extravagant, special. Those lucky enough to afford tickets to attend theater expect the experience to be stimulating and engaging which fits with red's personality. For the more scientifically minded of you there is the theory about the shorter wavelength of red allowing the eye to easily adjust to a darkened environment. For more theories see this.
|The Sydney Opera House|
But as we were looking around for images of theater interiors we came across an outlier or two. Above the Indiana University Musical arts center trades in the red grande drape for a perhaps even more opulent royal purple.
- Emily Eifler, Associate Designer, Colour Studio