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Alessandro Sanquirico. Theatre, Celebrations, Triumphs 1777–1849

by Vittoria Crespi Morbio
Essays by Vittoria Crespi Morbio, Sanquirico! Sanquirico! Sanquirico!; Maria Ida Biggi,
Gothic Style in Alessandro Sanquirico’s Scenographies; Gabriella Olivero, Sets on Oriental Themes Designed by Alessandro Sanquirico
Collection «December Seventh».
Umberto Allemandi&C. / Amici della Scala, Turin 2013.
Italian edition, pp. 339.

Newspapers raved about him, singers competed for him, princes and sovereigns showered him with honours, medals and snuff boxes: in the history of theatre no scenographer ever achieved the position of Alessandro Sanquirico (1777–1849) in the years of the peak of his hegemony in 19th-century Habsburgian Milan. The unchallenged master of La Scala, leading figure of social and cultural Milanese life, diligent traveller to London or the Magyar plains, Sanquirico gave stage presence to the creatures of bel canto, to the operas of Rossini, Bellini, Mercadante and Donizetti that mark out the development of Italian opera from Classicism to Romanticism. But his genius went beyond the theatre: he frescoed palaces and chapels, installed spectacular celebrative ornaments, added life and colour to nautical processions, city fairs, solemn entrances under even more solemn triumphal arches. He quickly sketched volcanoes, stormy seas, fires, hazy gardens, crumbling castles, Egyptian sphinxes, Swiss Alps, Etruscan friezes, Gothic ogives: and assembled a huge opus in congratulatory albums that he sent from Milan as gifts to the European courts. A favourite stage designer, but also a businessman and extraordinary self-promoter, Alessandro Sanquirico is one of the key figures of his day.