Two historic and cultural entities come together in Italy

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The Accademia Teatro Alla Scala in Milan and the Donnafugata Theater in Ibla-Ragusa are two historic entities in the international limelight united in the enhancement of the opera and the spread of culture.

With the opera L’Elisir d’Amore, directed by Laura Galmarini, the second cycle of 2019 collaborations between the Teatro Alla Scala Academy and the Donnafugata Theater of Ibla, the ancient village of Ragusa (Sicily), which started in 2017, ended.

The work of Gaetano Donizetti presented in 1832, defined as “melodramma gioiso” in 2 acts was successfully performed up to the present day in different scenic versions.

The last, in chronological order, that of Ibla, has been “amazing” for the reduction in a single act defined “pocket edition” and for the originality of the scenic setting “in the 20s,” not the least of which was for the vocality and scenic mastery of his 5 performers.

Everything studied, designed, and created was by the talents of the Teatro alla Scala Academy of Milan at the helm of Luisa Vinci for the Donnafugata Theater, directed by Vicky and Costanza Di Quattro in synergy with Clorinda Arezzo.

After show intimate performance

A lounge of the palace


In the small foyer of the Donnafugata Theater whose capacity is limited to no more than 90 people, as there are seats in the stalls and the boxes, the guests of the Sicilian bourgeoisie, looked forward to the new scenic setting while sipping champagne accompanied by half-dressed strawberries with chocolate: the special one produced in Modica (Sicily), unique in the world!

Black-tied gentlemen and ladies in a grand soiree dress adorned with important jewels were in line with the great occasions of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.

B. Castelletti and D.Rotella – Cinabro Carrettieri

Four members of the cast off the stage

In a question posed to Laura Galmarini, Director:

eTN asked: How was it possible to carry out a job, reduced to a “pocket” size on a miniature stage and be a great success?

Galmarini: “The staging created ad-hoc for the Donnafugata Theater required us to tackle some initial difficulties, such as musical and scenic adaptations in the face of a reduction in the dramaturgy of the original work.”

It was a brief answer that expresses the mastery and know-how of the trade. Laura Galmarini has a very respectable CV to her credit despite her young age. Born in 1991, she trained at the NABA School of Stage Design, the innovative Arts and Design Academy based in Milan that led her to the laboratories of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and to the Teatro Regia Office.

She then began her career as an assistant director working on numerous productions with directors Hugo De Ana, David McVicar, Claus Guth, Robert Wilson, Luc Bondy, Marie-Louise Bischofberger, Grischa Asagaroff, Jürgen Flimm, Peter Stein, Matthias Hartmann, Laurent Pelly, Sven-Erich Bechtolf, Liliana Cavani, and Mario Martone, and for the filming of the historical productions of Chereau, Strehler, and Zeffirelli.

To her credit, she has had other experiences as a set designer, costume designer, and collaborator of big names in Italian theater.

In 2019, with the Academy of the Teatro alla Scala, she signed the direction of “L’elisir d’amore,” scenes and costumes by Giuditta Verderio, at the Donnafugata Theater in Ragusa Ibla.

From left Clorinda Arezzo and the sisters Vicky and Costanza Di Quattro

L.Galmarini – (left) the father and Maurizio Mercurio from La Scala Theatre Milano

In a question posed to Ms. Giuditta Verderio, creator of the scenes and costumes:

eTN: What elements have stimulated your creativity?

Verderio: From my passion for the style of the twenties, were born costumes and sets that go beyond the veracity of the era. Blue (in the reduction of the work) dominates the scene, sky, and sea united, and it is there that the dream and magic take over. No matter how absurd and unattainable our dreams may be, the elixir of love teaches us that everything is possible. Just believe it.

Middle to right – Baroness Vincenzina Arezzo Scucces and son Corrado Arezzo owners of Donnafugata palace

On the right – the palace and the view of the cathedral of Ibla

In a question posed to Ms. Luisa Vinci  (L.V.) Director of the Teatro Alla Scala Academy:

eTN: How was the Academia meeting with the Donnafugata Theater born?

L.V.: It happened following a meeting with my friend Gianni Bocchieri from the Lombardy Region Department (originally from Ragusa) that he proposed me a visit to the theatre. It was a love at first sight that convinced me to realize this union.

Relaxing time after the show

Ibla UNESCO World Heritage site

Seen in the distance, a perched village at the top of which dominates the Donnafugata Castle, it cannot be imagined that Ibla conceals a precious Baroque architecture of noble palaces and over 40 churches or that every alley and small square lends itself to a theatrical script or a cinema set. This baroque quarter in the shadow of its capital (Ragusa) has become the theatrical European capital. Here it’s revenge on the greater Ragusa.

Strawberries and chocolate

The Donnafugata Theater

Within the private property of the Arezzo Scucces Di Quattro family (where the Saint Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was born) is a “jewel” of neoclassical style culture, boasting the privilege of being the smallest theatre in Italy. It recalls treble and warbling of famous voices, just like the great theatre of the time. Vincenzo Bellini had also left traces of his musical manuscript with a dedication to Donnafugata.

The suggestive atrium of the Donnafugata palace, the sumptuous staircase, the succession of the lounges, the elegance of the furnishings, and the opulence of the frescoes, make it a real residence of the last Gattopardo.

The general view of Ibla and its castle seen from Ragusa city

A mention is due to the artists B.Castelletti and D.Rotella of the Cinabro Carrettieri workshop for the creation of the attractive poster of the event on the style of old Sicily design on carts. Their masterly skill is sought-after by international fashion companies.

All photos © M.Masciullo

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