Dramatic and richly colorful prints from a series depicting elaborate sets designed and executed for operas and ballets performed on the stage of the famous Italian theater, La Scala. The ones offered here are from productions taking place between 1812 and 1819. A number of these are from operas: Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra [The Thieving Magpie], Felice Romani and Peter von Winter’s I Due Valdomiri, and Romani and Francesco Basily’s Gli Illinesi. The rest are sets for dances created by La Scala’s ballet master Salvatore Viganò (1769-1821), including La Spada di Kenneth [The Sword of Kenneth], Othello and Gli Strelitzi. Actors and dancers are shown on the sets, which gives a sense of their massive scale and lavish detail.
Teatro alla Scala, as it is officially known, opened in Milan in 1778, and still has one of the largest stages in Italy. The early productions were comic operas, but beginning in 1812 it became the home of opera seria (serious operas), and gained renown for its spectacular productions, which included elaborate sets. These prints were engraved after paintings by Alessandro Sanquirico, who served as La Scala’s principal stage designer from 1817 to 1832, and is known for his inventive use of perspective on painted backdrops, and innovative special effects involving lighting and mechanical devices.
Several of these prints were engraved by Angelo Biasioli, who worked in Milan and engraved numerous prints after Castallini and Bosio.
Condition: Generally very good, the original colors rich and vibrant, with some light toning and wear, principally to the margins.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 1, p. 649 (Biasioli).
“Staging the Orient: Visions of the East at La Scala and The Metropolitan Opera.” 2004. DaheshMuseum. http://www.daheshmuseum.org/history/pdf/StagingtheOrientRelease.pdf (7 January 2009).
“Teatro alla Scala History.” Teatro alla Scala. http://www.teatroscalamilano.it/eng_teatro.htm (7 January 2009).