After designing costumes for two Orson Welles projects in 1953, Anna Anni worked for more than 50 years at the top. Maria Callas, Monserrat Caballè, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Carla Fracci, Rudolf Nureyev, Anna Magnani, Valentina Cortese e Fanny Ardant all wore her costumes.
A designer obsessed with detail, and one of the first to rediscover techniques for creating period costumes, she worked not just in theatre but also in cinema, where her attention to detail could be appreciated in loving close-up by her colleague and friend Franco Zeffirelli; she designed the films of Othello, Tea with Mussolini and Callas Forever.
Her real home was in the theatre. For the Verona Arena and the Metropolitan Opera in New York she created costumes for some of their most celebrated operas: Aidas, Turandots and Carmens. The legendary La Fille due Régiment at Covent Garden in 1966 with Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti was also design by Anna Anni.
Anni’s work in ballet was extensive through the collaboration with director Beppe Menegatti and his wife Carla Fracci. They created more than twenty ballets together. She also designed Rudolf Nureyev’s 1988 production of Don Quixote at La Scala.
For the Italian theatre’s greatest years she created costumes for Anna Magnani in La Lupa, and for Rossella Falk and Valentina Cortese in the much celebrated production of Schiller’s Mary Stuart.
She was nominated for an Oscar in 1987 for Otello, and a BAFTA in 2000 for Tea with Mussolini.
Photo: Carmen, Verona Arena 2009