History of a brand and art gallery
by Salvatore La Lota di Blasi, ph. Archivio Fondazione Cerratelli
Stories regarding opera and stage costumes in Pisa cannot but become one with the historic brand of Cerratelli. Talking about Cerratelli today means going through the history of the Foundation which was born in 2005 to safeguard and preserve a huge wealth of knowledge and costumes already created over a century ago. We cannot refer to Fondazione Cerratelli – nowadays managed by Floridia Benedettini – if we don’t know the whole story of how it came to be. “It was in 1914 when the baritone Arturo Cerratelli, among the first artists to sing the “Bohème” by Puccini”, says Diego Fiorini, creative tailor or as he has been defined “the spiritual energy driving the Foundation project”, “gave way to a “Casa d’arte” with headquarters in via della Pergola in Florence, gathering the costumes which were part of his own personal career baggage and setting the way for what would have then become the productive merger between high fashion and theatre”. Those costumes actually made it overseas. In the Thirties, costumes by Cerratelli made it to Latin America directly from Tuscany reaching the stage of the Colòn in Buenos Aires.
A mystic bond was created between fabrics and creativity, art and genius, which in the 20th century brought artists such as Giorgio De Chirico to create the costumes for “I Puritani” by Belllini or Felice Casorati to design those for “La Vestale” by Spontini in 1940. Guttuso and Mino Maccari created the costumes for “La Giara” by Pirandello in 1966. “An extraordinary partnership”, Diego Fiorini continues, “was established right there in those halls in via della Pergola among Danilo Donati, Anna Anni and Franco Zeffirelli who brought the highest acknowledgement to the garments made by Cerratelli, Oscar for Best Costumes in 1969 for “Romeo and Juliet” filmed in 1968”. A bond between theatre, music and cinema: bearing the signature of Cerratelli were Anna Magnani’s costumes in “La Lupa” in 1965 directed by Franco Zeffirelli as well as those of Maria Callas, Renata Tebadli and Sofia Loren. Fifty years after the Oscar, today, in 2019 the Foundation continues to create and restore handcrafts and safeguard its own heritage. “At this point you expect me to say that the Foundation’s heritage consists in the over 30 thousand costumes belonging to us”, Fiorini specifies, “instead I say that the true treasure of the Foundation lies in its knowledge which is hidden amongst the folds and seams of each singular costume”. Each costume is born from research and a careful study of the historic era it represents. This is where the knowledgeable experience of more than tens of craftsmen and women, dressmakers guided by costume designers, who in rigorous silence and complete accordance create the handmade garments with needles, thimbles and thread. The same which are being reborn through a painstaking restoration like the one that is currently going on which will take the costumes for “Aida” on stage at La Fenice in Venice on 18th May, made by Aldo Buti directed by Mario Bolognini, already staged in 1976.
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