| Art, Fashion, Lifestyle,

La Scala Milan – Where The Spectacular Clothes and Effects Are Born

Beatrice Lessi

Backstage Magic

Would you like to discover the spectacular place where all the backstage secrets of Teatro Alla Scala are created? Then go to the Ansaldo workshops,  20’000 square meters of labs where a team of 150 works to create dramatic costumes, magnificent statues, dreamy landscapes and special effects. Now they are open to the public, and I had the privilege to visit them with Paola Bisi, Communication Manager of Accademia la Scala, who showed me the absolute best of them and introduced me to this magical place.

I am in awe - the eternal beauty of famous Opera costumes

I am in awe – the eternal beauty of famous Opera costumes

La scala costumes real divas wear

A flying mermaid, built in the Ansaldo workshops in Milan.

beatrice lessi la scala backstage

How projects start – small

La scala costumes ansaldo workshops

Where stage effects and decorations are built.

The Costumes

Of course my favourite part was about fashion, so I took my time to visit the Caramba Pavilion, where 60’000 costumes belonging to over 280 productions from 1911 up to today, are kept in 1400 wardrobes that are distributed over a 1400-square-metre area.

costumes la scala

A dress has to fit all sizes, and stand the test of time – costume making at Teatro Alla Scala has its own special rules.

Rita Citterio, who is in charge of the costumes, guided me on my short tour. You might think that she simply explained to me how the dresses are made, adapted, renovated or even made allover again. But she did much more than that: she explained how old sketches are faithfully copied, in case things can’t be repaired. She told me what productions where amazing and left a mark in history, what she wishes to see again, how the great divas or directors of the past behaved offstage, how important it is for all staff to keep these wonderful treasures in top condition and show them to the public…in short, she showed me her love and passion for the place, something I keep experiencing every time I visit La Scala. Everybody who works here is a part of the reason of the theatre’s success – everybody who works here goes for excellence.

rita citterio beatrice lessi

With Rita Citterio, who knows everything about every single dress here! Skirt and matching bag by Longchamps.

la scala costumes

Admiring a piece of history – and fashion

Beatrice lessi la scala

At the evening performance

At the entrance of the world-famous theater

At the entrance of the world-famous theater

costumi la scala

Hanging at the Ansaldo workshops

In one season, 800 to 1000 new costumes are made and almost 1500 from the warehouse are refashioned and made to correct measure. Some dresses are shown to the public, but some are kept in the warehouses, because there are simply too many. An insightful, uplifting experience – thanks Rita and Paola for the great day!


beatrice lessi la scala

Magic on and off stage.