by Clizia Gurrado, photos Laila Pozzo

An exclusive journey behind the scenes of Italian opera houses takes readers inside the multifaceted universe where unique craftspeople create rich and elaborate productions.

The Cologni Foundation presents an original tribute to the master craftspeople who, day by day, construct the success of Italian opera houses with unparalleled skill and passion. Their craft is esteemed and respected across the world, and a real feather in the cap of Italy's artistic and artisanal tradition. The authors guide the readers on an exclusive journey behind the scenes of Italian opera houses, in the multifaceted universe where unique professional figures create rich and elaborate productions in a variety of contexts and departments: from set design to carpentry and mechanics, from sculpture to thermoforming, from dressmaking to make-up, hair and costumes, up to the actual building of the stage set. These master craftspeople and technicians share the same dedication and spirit of sacrifice and, through the magical synergy of their work, they give life to a show, bringing illusion and emotion on stage every night.

Clizia Gurrado, journalist and theatre aficionado, conceived the book like a playful tale that is divided in acts along the lines of a libretto, highlighting the protagonists and their roles. The scene is set in Milan, Venice, Turin and Verona, where some of the greatest Italian opera theatres have generously opened their doors: the Accademia della Scala in Milan, the Teatro Regio in Turin, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Arena in Verona. The book’s protagonists tell their stories from behind the scenes of these celebrated theatres, allowing us to observe the “marvellous machine” that produces dreams and arouses emotions.

The book’s amazing illustrations are by Milanese photographer Laila Pozzo, author of a number of passionate photo features on the world of the “métiers d’art”. Her photographs reveal the faces, places, gestures and secrets of the great hidden protagonists of the opera theatre: though their names do not ring out in theatre halls as those of the singers and musicians, their work is equally indispensable to the perfect execution of an opera, of which these craftspeople are, to all effects, the true protagonists.