Defining Characteristics

  • The Baroque period took place during 1575 - 1725.
  • Baroque drama was popular in France, Spain, and England.
  • Baroque plays were influenced by religion, music, poetry, art, and dance.
  • Plays were made up of three parts: set-up, conflict, and resolution.
  • Common themes of plays: drama, comedy, and tragedy.
  • Most of the dramatic plays were about love, dignity, and jealousy.
  • What made Baroque plays so pro-founding were its incorporation of architecture, paintings, and musical aspects of opera, that created a multimedia theatrical experience for its entire audience.

Where did the Baroque Drama movement originate from?

The Baroque drama movement originated in France and moved outwards all over Europe, specifically in England and Spain.

Significant Artists of Baroque Drama

How Society Was Involved

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Drama was created for the entertainment of the middle class and wealthy. In order to see a play, you had to pay to get in, and the closer your seats were to the stage or up in the balconies, the higher social class you were. Women were not always allowed to watch the plays; however, if they did they had to be covered by veils. Since women were not always welcomed to watch the plays, they were also not allowed to be play writers or actresses. Young boys were paid to play the female roles instead. Since drama was one of the only forms of entertainment for the majority of Europe, it played a very large role on the influence of society.

Relevant Time Frame

1600 - Galileo identifies gravity

1603 - Monteverdi: Fourth Book of Madrigals; Shakespeare - Othello

1604 - Rembrandt, painter, born

1606 - Jamestown, 1st American colony founded

1607 - Monteverdi: Orfeo; Quebec founded by Champlain; John Smith elected president of the Jamestown colony

1608 - Galileo uses telescope to study stars;Henry Hudson explores Hudson river

1609 - Orlando Gibbons: Fantazies of Three Parts, first example of engraved music in England; Shakespear: The Tempest

1612- Orlando Gibbons: First Set of Madrigals and Motets; The Globe Theatre burns down

1613 - William Shakespeare, playwright, died; White settlers introduce small pox, many indians die

1616 - 30 years war begins

1618 - First slaves brought to America

1619 - Galileo invents the telescope

1625 - Orlando Gibbons dies; Fork 1st introduced to American dining

1632 - Monteverdi takes holy orders; Taj Mahal built

1634 - Harvard College extablished, 1st college in the colonies

1636 - Pequot War

1637 - Dietrich Buxtehude, composer, born; First opera house (Vienna); Pascal invents an adding machine; Sir Isaac Newton, born

1646 - End of Thirty Years War

1648 - Aria and recitative become two distinct entities in opera

1650 - The overture as musical form emerges in two types, Italian and French; Beginning of modern harmony; development of modulation

1652 - First opera house in Vienna; Minuet comes into fashion in French court

1655- Johann Denner, invents the clarinet; Bartolommeo Cristofori, inventor of pianoforte, was born; Edmund Halley, Halley's comet, born

1656 - Opening of first London opera house

1659 - Henry Purcell, composer, born

1660 - Alessandro Scarlatti, composer, born; Louis XIV builds Versailles Palace

1661- Newton demonstrates the nature of light

1665 - The great London fire destroys 2/3 of London

1666 - Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels

1668 - Francois Couperin, composer, born; Hundson's Bay Company founded, competes with French fur traders

1671 - Paris Opera opened with Robert Cambert's opera Pomone; 1st formal Thanksgiving Day

1676 - Antonio Vivaldi, composer, born

1680 - Stradivari makes his earliest known cello

1681 - Female professional dancers appear for the first time at Paris opera; Thimble is patented

1685 - JS Bach, born; George F. Handel, born

1689 - Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas opera; Witch hunts in Salem, MA: 19 die

1692 - Champagne invented by Dom Perignon

1693 - Voltaire, French philosopher, born, (sculpture of him, Thinker)

1694 - Russia's Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards

1700 - Stradivarius violins built (1700-1737); Benjamin Franklin, born; Charles Perrault, aka. Mother Goose, died

1703 - 1st ogan built in the colonies, Philadelphia

1704 - J.S. Bach writes his first cantata: Denn Du wirst meine Seele

1705 - Handel: Almira, opera staged in Hamburg; Scotland and England join to become Great Britain

1709 - Invention of the pianoforte - Bartolomeo Cristofori; Typewriter patented

1715 - Vaudevilles, popular musical comedies, appear in Paris; 1st lighthouse in US (Boston Harbor)

1717 - Handel's Water Music first performed on the Thames; Blackbeard, English pirate, killed off Virginia coast

1720 - Handel: Harpsichord suite no 5 ( with the "Harmonius Blacksmith"); John Hanson, 1st US President under the Articles of Confederation

1721- J.S. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos

1722 - J.S. Bach: Das wohltemperierte Kalvier, vol 1

1725 - Bach: Notenbuch for Anna Magdalena Bach; J.J. Fux: Gradus ad Parnassum, Treatise on counterpoint; Isaac Newton, died

1727 - Catherine the Great, Russia, born

1729 - J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion; Soler, Spanish composer, born; George Washingon, born; First stagecoach route

1732 - Joseph Haydn, composer, born; John Hancock, first signer of the Declaration of Independence, born

1737 - Antonio Stradivari, violin maker, died; Invention of the Franklin stove

1741 - Handel: The Messiah, oratorio; Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President, born

1744 - J.S. Bach: Das wohltemperierte Klavierpart 2; Count Volta, invented electric battery

1745 - Johann von Goethe, poet, born

1750 - J. S. Bach, composer, dies

As you can see, there were a lot of relevant events that took place during the Baroque period. From the birth of great artists, composers, and playwrights, drama had a prominent influence of this period. Because of this numerous opera houses were built in order to accommodate the popularity and growth of drama and theater.
History of Theatre 8 - From Palace to Public House (cc's English, Español)


Kemper, N. (2014, May 24). Baroque Era. Retrieved from Prezi:

Norman, Larry. (2001). The Theatrical Baroque: European Plays, Painting and Poetry, 1575 - 1725. Retrieved from Fathom Archive:

Wikispaces. (2016). Baroque Drama. Retrieved from Wikispaces: