Premiering in Venice in 1853, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata has since been reinvented and reimagined in countless productions the world over. But this week, the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome was home to a series of firsts for the work, with Oscar-winning film-maker Sofia Coppola making her operatic directorial debut, sets designed by Nathan Crowley (whose work includes Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) and costumes by Valentino.
The opera is also the first cultural project for the Fondazione Valentino Garavani, founded by Valentino and his longtime business partner Giancarlo Giammetti. “We wanted to do a new production, a modern production, but modern as concept without being avant-garde,” Giancarlo Giammetti told The New York Times. And enlisting the talented Sofia Coppola, whom the duo have come to know from her attendance at the designer’s shows, was seen as crucial to achieving the necessary contemporary feel, to bring the production to a new audience, while respecting its traditional heritage.
Although Mr Valentino has previously designed for both the Vienna State Opera Ballet and New York City Ballet, this is his first foray into opera. However, the art form is close to the Italian’s heart. “My father was passionate about opera. He took me to see my first one when I was 13”, he recently told The Telegraph. He also designed many outfits for the international soprano Maria Callas, and it was a trip to see a production of Carmen in Barcelona that was the inspiration behind the now-famous Valentino red.
Valentino himself designed the four dresses to be worn by Francesca Dotto, in the lead role as Violetta, including an off-the-shoulder, draped red dress, and a black gown that features a fabulous teal train, while his lauded successors at the Italian fashion house, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, created over one hundred costumes for the cast and dancers, as well as replicas of each dress for the female leads and their understudies. And while most were made in-house, at Teatro dell’Opera’s own workshops, Violetta’s four costumes were hand-sewn over thousands of hours in the couture workshops at Palazzo Gabrielli- Mignanelli.
“Opera, like couture, is seen as something of the past, a little dusty, a little obsolete, instead it has to be rediscovered,” Maria Grazia Chiuri told The New York Times following the production. Given the interest in this much-anticipated show, which has already claimed the title of biggest box office success at the Roman theatre, it seems that many are indeed rediscovering this elegant oeuvre.
La Traviata runs for 15 performances from 24 May to 30 June 2016. Visit here for more details.