Amneris and the ball

Amneris, costume by Lila De NobiliTeatro Alla Scala

Amneris, costume by Lila de Nobili

Lila de Nobili, who in the words of Franco Zeffirelli was "the greatest set and costume designer of the 20th century", was born near Lugano into a wealthy family that blended Italian and Hungarian origins. She moved to Paris in 1943 and achieved fame designing advertising for the great French fashion brands, from Lanvin to Balmain. As a stage designer she worked closely with Cocteau, with whom she presented the French premiere of Un tram chiamato desiderio by Tennessee Williams with Arletty as Blanche Du Bois.

During her long career she designed the stage clothes of some of the biggest stars of his time, including Édith Piaf and Audrey Hepburn, Margot Fonteyn and Ingrid Bergman, Leslie Caron and Vanessa Redgrave.

She became a frequent collaborator of Giancarlo Menotti and Peter Hall's shakespearian stagings in Stratford, and began to work in dance with Frederick Ashton.

La TraviataTeatro Alla Scala

At La Scala she is at the side of Luchino Visconti in the legendary Traviata of 1955. A show that today is considered an indisputable classic but that at the time had aroused several perplexities both for the temporal transposition and for the naturalism of the acting and the situations.

De Nobili immersed the details of the furnishings, chosen with maniacal precision by Visconti in a vibrant pictorial atmosphere. Years later Gianandrea Gavazzeni remembered the "impressionistic manner" of the second act.

AidaTeatro Alla Scala

The staging of Aida in 1963 directed by Franco Zeffirelli and directed by Gavazzeni also deviates from the directions of the booklet, renouncing the reconstruction of an archaeological Egypt to recreate the atmosphere of nineteenth-century Orientalism.

De Nobili paints a dark Aida, an Egypt of shadows in which oriental styles blend with the bourgeois fashion of the second half of the nineteenth century.

AidaTeatro Alla Scala

In the 60s it was still common to look in the warehouses for costumes of old shows to reuse their fabrics or accessories: De Nobili does it with extraordinary creativity, also taking parts of Caramba costumes.

Amneris, costume by Lila De NobiliTeatro Alla Scala

So the collars of the armigers come from a Lohengrin of forty years before and the embroidered bodice of Amneris, then worn by Fiorenza Cossotto, is recovered from a costume of the '20s.

The bottom of the long cloak comes from an ecclesiastical costume.

Even the jewels mix creation and reuse: the crown, designed by De Nobili, was made by the Marangoni company

while the necklace, embellished with Murano glass stones, dates back to the 20s.

Credits: Story

Teatro alla Scala
Special thanks to: Rita Citterio

Credits: All media
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