Attention please: This is a high colour and creative item. We advise you to prepare your eyes because those of Annemette Schlosser Bernardelli are costumes that won’t leave you feeling indifferent. To make a selection of pictures for this article, wasn’t easy.
The story of this extraordinary costume designer – by a dear friend of North Carolina “The Queen of Patchwork” – who has been working for many years in Lecce for Operas, in particular with the Mimus Minuscolo Musiktheater, begins with her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Braunschweig (Germany) and then diverts for a short period of time onto other courses.
Annemette, how did you approach to the Opera environment? I began to work first of all as a lyric singer but I wasn’t satisfied with my performance. My teacher from Milan told me that I should concentrate on a different voice setting, moving away from lyrical songs. Then a friend of mine who worked at the Dortmund Theatre asked me if I wanted to work with him as a set designer and only afterwards I gained experience in actress, screenwriter, director and costume designer! A varied and complete course in theatre that allowed me to learn so many things.
Beyond the inevitable conditions given by the “libretto” and by the story of Opera represented, how do you diversify your creations? Of course, I often work respecting the tradition. Being a singer, though, I understand that when the musical is very good I don’t have the chance to express my creativity so much but when there’s a musically monotonous work, it becomes important to value the costumes to keep the attention of the public alive and on these occasions I pull out all my extras: I think of the richest, most colourful, damask clothes.
I found interesting, for example, to carry an Opera from the sixteenth century to the present time through the costumes for the scenes: this helped to prevent everything from appearing too far away from the spectator.
Is there a risk that the more “traditional” audience will feel disatisfied? Yes, absolutely yes. It’s not just a public issue. Recently I was offered a Madama Butterly and I wanted to bring it to our day but the production did not agree, so I refused the work. In my opinion it makes no sense to stay nailed to the original setting and sometimes it seems to be almost ridiculous.
You also worked for five years with Galatina’s Theatrum Company on prose dramas. Yes, I have directed shows such as “A Wedding Question” by Anton Cheechov, “The Love of Don Perlimplino with Belisa in the Garden” by F. Garçia Lorca, “The Singing Bald” by Eugene Ionesco. I never abandoned my preference for the music theatre, however, I have put on stage less known works. One of my priorities is to bring the public closer to classical music in a light way, and by choosing the funniest and shorter operas and intermezzo, I try to open a door to the fascinating world of singing and acting together on the stage.
What is the audience’s response? Are people still curious about Opera? The public appreciates a lot my way to work and often makes comments and appreciations about the costumes when they are particularly refined. When Operas are represented outside of the theatres, even an easier, less accustomed audience remains very enthusiastic.
Tell me a dream you would like to make a reality. Well if I could join a job at a big theatre and put my hands on a lot of money, I could finally get the most out of it! – she laughs. But in fact I already do what I like and I think at this point I would suffer a little to be conditioned by the indications of a big production. A project that I have developed and that I care much about instead is the one inspired by the Venus of Parabita and is called “Venus wanted”. I have done a lot of researching to deal with the subject and there are many references to Greek mythology but I have given a startup and engaging screenplay that sees 9 aspiring “venus” girls going to make an audition. I’ll let you know more!