Deep-red curtains are synonymous with theatres and the stage. The tradition that theatre performances are punctuated by the rise and fall of these curtains is ingrained in history.

It’s believed that Italian opera houses first introduced red curtains to the stage in the 18th century to create a grand, theatrical environment. Back then, due to the popularity of Italian opera, other opera houses copied the trend for red stage curtains, hoping to recreate same the regal look.

When theatres and cinemas started to replace opera houses as a form of entertainment, the trend for red curtains remained.

Nowadays, many theatres still boast impressive deep-red stage curtains. These are mainly made from cotton velvet velour, wool serge or heavy stage satin. Some theatres, however, have opted for a different look.

We’ve taken a look at some historic theatres from around the world to see what stage curtains they have to offer…

Cotton Velvet Curtains

One of the most popular fabrics for stage curtain use is cotton velvet velour. As the traditional solution for draperies, the richness of the material makes it perfect for masking both light and sound, whilst still maintaining a strong aesthetic appeal.

The Opera House of Cairo and The Opéra de Lille both have classic deep-red curtains made from cotton velvet that weighs 540 g/m2. At Whaleys Stages we offer theatre-heavy cotton velvet that weighs 565 g/m2.

Polyester Velvet Curtains

Another popular option for theatre curtains is polyester velvet. Polyester mirrors the style of cotton velvet but comes with a lower price tag. Not only does polyester velvet uphold a rich aesthetic, but its acoustic insulation properties make it a perfect solution for stage curtains.

Many traditional opera houses in Italy boast polyester velvet curtains, including The Teatro San Carlo in Naples and The Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

Lame Curtains

For something a bit different, several theatres have used lame for their stage curtains. Lame is a striking material that’s woven with thin ribbons of metallic yarns to create a reflective and semi-transparent appearance. Its glossy finish catches the light and gives the material a sense of movement.

Silver lame fabric has been used by The Moscow Music Hall to create their show-stopping venetian curtains. At Whaleys Stages we stock lame in three different styles, Micro Dot, Classic or Mirror in either silver or gold.

Wool Serge Curtains

The Sydney Opera House’s first and most iconic stage curtains were designed by well-known abstract painter John Coburn. The curtains were made out of Australian Merino wool and featured bold patterns and colours. Although highly popular, the curtains were de-commissioned in the late 1980s due to wear and tear. Merino wool is delicate and highly absorbent so isn’t the best option for theatre curtains.

These days wool serge is a much more popular choice of stage fabric. Wool serge is incredibly versatile, making it the perfect fit for theatrical drapes, borders, legs and skirting. At Whaleys Stages we offer 100% wool serge fabric that’s strong, durable and flame retardant.

Cotton Curtains

Radio City Music Hall in New York is home to some very famous, and very gold, stage drapes. Radio City is an American National Historic Landmark, therefore, the venue isn’t allowed to change the look of its stage drapes.

Last replaced in 1987, Radio City’s current drapes are made from a grey-green cotton backing that has gold-toned rayon thread woven throughout. The fabric was specially made for Radio City but here at Whaleys Stages we offer an assortment of different cotton fabrics. Most of our cotton fabrics are used as stage backdrops but can also be used for stage curtains.


If you need any help in choosing a fabric for your theatre or stage, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Whaleys Stages team.

Looking for a Specialist?

We are always happy to assist you with your enquiry. We take pride in helping and supporting our clients. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 01274 576718, visit our contact page or email us with any questions.

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