Maria Callas’ costumes evoke a special frisson of excitement: knowing that she was wearing it when she sang a role so loved from a recording, and, for a few, having actually seen her 60 years ago in the theatre dressed in the same costume now sitting on a mannequin.
Milan’s Teatro alla Scala preserves these costumes, and those of many other legendary opera singers, with loving care. There is no permanent exhibition of costumes at the theatre or its museum, something which should be redressed (pun intended).
Here are some photos of the costume designed for Callas’ Lady Macbeth by Nicola Benois in 1952.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.