Milanese artist Barnaba Fornasetti, the son of the late Piero Fornasetti, built a creative team of specialists in different disciplines to bring back on stage the original version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” as it debuted in Praga back in 1787.
The opera performance will be staged in Milan on Thursday, on Saturday at the Teatro dell’Arte inside the Triennale Museum and then in Florence during the Pitti Uomo international men’s wear trade show, running Jan. 10 to 13.
Fornasetti himself conceived the scenography, while fashion designer Romeo Gigli created the costumes. Simone Toni and Davide Montagna are the orchestra director and the performance director, respectively.
“I got the idea for the project by talking with the orchestra director, Simone Toni, who was basically born under the Mozart sign. He fascinated me and his passion was contagious,” Fornasetti said. “We chose ‘Don Giovanni’ because being a myth, it never loses its charm. There is nothing more fascinating than love and death and ‘Don Giovanni’ includes both of them.”
Fornasetti developed set design creating a surreal, graphic environment with screens, moved by the dancers, generating a dynamic, suggestive atmosphere.
“I started from the belief that decoration can be actually extended to other sectors, not just design — theater and opera seemed the most appropriate to me,” Fornasetti explained. “We made a long search in the Fornasetti archive and we got inspired by Da Ponte’s libretto to find the most suitable iconography which we read in a modern key. The motifs go from game cards and the metaphysic room to the signature faces of various women’s identities, which recall the opera’s main theme.”
Gigli was asked by Fornasetti to design all the costumes of the characters.
“I started designing the costumes in early June and the production kicked off in July,” said the designer, who teamed with Rome-based theater dressmaker Sartoria Farani which crafted the costumes, all hand-painted using at least 100 different colors. “I really enjoyed developing this project, which required a lot of work. I loved the fact that I had that freedom of expression that for many reasons you cannot actually have any more in the fashion industry.”
In particular, Gigli said a surreal mood was infused in the costumes, which, for example, include tailcoats featuring the tips pointing upward and women’s dresses that go from being huge to extra small.
“The costumes of the 18th century were the starting point, but I reworked them in a pop, postmodern way; there are very roomy silhouettes, but at the same time they are geometric, there is something dreamy about them,” he said.
Gigli revealed that the Don Giovanni will wear a dark blue suit crafted from a metallic fabric with hand-painted stripes, along with a “poison” green shirt and a purple silk scarf. In addition, among the main characters, Donna Anna will be dressed in a red frock; Leporello will be in a light-blue suit with a green shirt; Don Ottavio will show a dandy look with a pink velvet suit matched with light-blue and gold shoes; Donna Elvira will sport a voluminous circle skirt embroidered with 3,500 leaves painted in six tones spanning from blue to purple, while Zerlina will wear a grain-colored dress. The wigs worn by the characters were also realized by prestigious Roman company Rocchetti Parrucche.
Asked about the possibility of developing other similar productions in the future, Fornasetti said that “We are not planning other similar projects, but they actually already exist in my mind. It will also depend on the success of the ‘Don Giovanni.’”