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Dressing a Diva

The art of crafting a leading lady

A fascinating exhibition celebrates the ground breaking theatre and silver screen career of Italian actress Lyda Borelli, wife of Vittorio Cini, the founder of Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The immersive showcase reveals the fine craftsmanship behind creating the allure of a diva. Borelli is considered a legendary actress of silent films whose image as a modern woman in the early 20th century was forged in part by the characters she played on stage and on film, but also by the fact she was one of the first female theatre company leaders in Italy.

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Brought to life by costumes

Admire beautifully tailored costumes by Venetian master costume-maker Stefano Nicolao which honour Lyda Borelli and her unique stage presence. Nicolao’s original creations are inspired by Lyda’s costumes conserved in the archives of Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s Institute of Theatre and Opera. Witness the fine Venetian fabrics, the traditional tailoring techniques, hand stitched embroidery, pleating and old-fashioned cuts which create timeless elegance.

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A journey down memory lane

In the beautiful surroundings of Eleanora’s Duse’s room, the exhibition draws on the remarkable archives of Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s Institute of Theatre and Opera including those of important set designers, directors and actors of the 20th century. The Institute opens its collection of images, videos, documents and costumes to allow visitors to become more closely acquainted with Lyda Borelli, in light of her image as a modern woman of the belle époque.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini

The Fondazione Giorgo Cini is a non-profit cultural institution based in Venice, Italy. Established by Vittorio Cini in 1951 with the aim of creating an international cultural centre re-integrating the San Giorgio Maggiore Island into the life of Venice and the region, today it is an important centre of humanistic studies and encourages the creation and development of educational, social, cultural and artistic institutions in the surrounding territory.