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Pageants and stage events

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Fifteenth-century religious pageants and stage events often relied on complex machinery.

A memorable example was the equipment used for religious festivities in the churches of the Annunziata, San Felice, Carmine, and Santo Spirito in Florence between 1439 and 1494. These stage events used machines to move persons and sets, lanterns mounted on self-propelled contraptions, and artificial fires.

In the Annunciation pageant produced by Brunelleschi in San Felice, the angel descended on the stage in an almond-shaped frame surrounded by blazing lights.

Even Leonardo designed complex mechanical systems, such as the "Feast of Paradise" at the Sforza Castle in 1490. In the Danae, performed in Milan in 1496, the actors were placed in mobile niches raised by hoists. Counterweight mechanisms were preferred for Poliziano's Orfeo, in which a mountain opened up to reveal Hades emerging from the underworld.



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