The exhibition "Turandot and the fantastic East by Puccini, Chini and Caramba" will open on May 22 at the Museo del Tessuto in Prato, the result of extensive research that lasted two years, formed from the discovery of a mysterious trunk that contained costumes and jewellery. "The idea for the exhibition was formed in 2018 - said the museum director Filippo Guarini - with the acquisition by the Museum of the fabric from a mysterious trunk belonging to the Prato soprano, Iva Pacetti. Inside, we found costumes and jewels whose beauty and importance could only be guessed at because the state of conservation was very bad. Through studies, it was understood that these were the costumes and stage jewels of the world premiere of Turandot at La Scala held on April 25, 1926, directed by Arturo Toscanini. The restoration was possible thanks to the crowdfounding campaign "The rediscovered costume". We then had the idea of promoting this discovery in a broader framework that would also reveal the genesis of Puccini's work."
A highly evocative, multidisciplinary and wide-ranging exhibition that aims to reconstruct the events that led the great Tuscan composer Giacomo Puccini to choose the painter Galileo Chini as set designer and Luigi Sapelli aka Caramba as costume designer.
The "artistic partnership" between Puccini and Galileo Chini was born from the composer's desire to entrust the oriental setting of the work to an artist who had truly experienced it from the East. Galileo Chini lived in Siam (present-day Thailand) for three years, from 1911 to 1913, working on the decoration of the Throne Palace of King Rama VI. After his oriental stay, Chini returned deeply fascinated and with a luggage containing hundreds of artistic artefacts of Chinese, Japanese, Siamese style and production that influenced his artistic production even after his stay in Siam. The more than 600 oriental relics were then donated by the artist in 1950 to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in Florence.
On display, after decades of nothing, the extraordinary costumes of the protagonist from the opera Rosa Raisa, the first soprano in history to interpret the role of the 'Princess of Frost', accompanied by the wonderful crown made by the Corbella company in Milan as well as the original wig and pin, also from the Iva Pacetti's wardrobe. Also on display are 30 costumes from the Sartoria Devalle archive in Turin, including primary and supporting roles such as the Emperor, Calaf, Ping, Pong and Pang, the Mandarin and from the supporting roles of the Priests, Handmaids, Guards, characters of the people.
The exhibition unfolds over more than 1,000 square meters, with a path divided into three sections that develops on the two floors of the museum with over 120 objects from the Chini Collection of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology, 30 costumes from La Scala, seven original sets and numerous other objects such as original sketches, drawings, posters.
The co-organizer of the exhibition is the Sistema Museale dell'Ateneo fiorentino. The exhibition also benefits from the collaboration with the Teatro alla Scala Foundation in Milan, the Ricordi Historical Archive of Milan and the Giacomo Puccini Foundation of Lucca. The lenders also include the La Scala Theater Museum and the Teatro alla Scala Historical Documental Archive, the Uffizi Galleries - Modern Art Gallery of Palazzo Pitti, the Devalle tailoring shop in Turin, the Corbella Archive, the Società Belle Arti of Viareggio and numerous private lenders.
On the occasion of the exhibition, the Museo del Tessuto has also created the Turandot Passport, a simple and captivating tool that invites you to discover several fascinating places linked to the figures of Puccini and Chiti:
- the Puccini Museum in Lucca, the composer's birthplace;
- Villa Museo di Torre del Lago, which still retains its original appearance as it was left by the Maestro in 1926;
- MO.C.A. - Montecatini Terme Contemporary Art, an evident example of Galileo Chini's work with magnificent stained glass windows and the vaults and velari decorations of the Town Hall;
- the Chini Museum in Borgo San Lorenzo with its splendid ceramics and other masterpieces created by the versatile artist.
The previously mentioned Florentine Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology is also included, which, on the occasion of the exhibition, has specially rearranged a room of the Palazzo Nonfinito with an precise and surprising selection of objects from the Chini Collection.
The Turandot Passport is stamped at the entrance of the mentioned sites, allowing you to take advantage of special reductions and discounts.