A journey trough the backstage of the Teatro alla Scala
The Teatro alla Scala workshops, first based in the sites of Bovisa, Pero, Abanella as well as in the Piermarini site, have been located since 20 February 2001 in the former industrial settlement of the Ansaldo steel plants in Milan.
This huge 20,000-square-metre facility is divided in three pavilions dedicated to the director Luchino Visconti, the stage designer Nicola Benois and the costume designer Luigi Sapelli (aka Caramba). Most of the handmade works for the production are carried out there - set design, sculpture, thermoforming, carpentry works, mechanics workshop, set assembly, costume workshop, costume design, laundry. The premises hold more than 60,000 stage costumes, and include practice rooms for the chorus and a stage area for direction rehearsals which perfectly corresponds to the Piermarini stage.
This heritage exists thanks to the daily work of more than 150 workers including joiners, blacksmiths, carpenters, set designers, scenography technicians, sculptors, dressmakers and costume designers who create the whole staging from a simple sketch.
Wishing to share this world of values, La Scala has decided to open the Scala Ansaldo Workshops to the public. Visitors can now embark on a journey through the backstage of the theatre and see the birth of a show at first hand.
If sets used to be made mainly on cloth, today in the stage design workshops, new materials are used more and more often. This transformation has allowed set designers to improve their technical knowledge and to create technologically complex elements.
Set design, set building carpentry
This is the department where the various set elements are made. The work preserves all the characteristics of ancient craftsmanship: each handmade piece has the characteristics of a prototype, of a unique product.
These creations are made on a full scale drawing.
Besides the large statues, this department is in charge of all the surfaces that cover sets, rocks, bricks, trees and any type of architectural elements
Wardrobe - Costume Design - Costume Fitting
When the wardrobe was moved to the Ansaldo Worskshops, the worshop space increased by 300%, allowing a different work organisation. All the workers work next to the costume designer, from the design stage to the creation, going through the different working stages with handmade procedures. In one season, 800 to 1000 new costumes are made and almost 1500 from the warehouse are refashioned and made to correct measure.
Anna Bolena, costume by BenoisTeatro Alla Scala
Almost 60,000 costumes, belonging to over 280 productions from 1911 up to today, are kept in 1400 wardrobes that are distributed over a 1400-square-metre area.
Each costume is washed during its passage from the warehouse to the wardrobe before being used on stage, and washed again after the last performance.
Practice rooms for the Chours
The Visconti Pavilion hosts two practice rooms for the chorus and one stage area, identical in size to the theatre's. Set elements can be installed on the stage and volumes can be simulated, which allows directors to set up the first movements.