Born in Milan, Luisa Spinatelli studied set design under Tito Varisco at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, where she now teaches. She made her debut as set designer at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala with the ballet Francesca da Rimini choreographed by Mario Pistoni and featuring Carla Fracci in the leading roles.
Subsequently, as an assistant to prominent set designer Ezio Frigeri, Ms Spinatelli has had the opportunity to work with the renowned director Giorgio Strehler, who greatly shaped her approach to theatre, opera, and ballet. For Strehler she designed costumes for Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan (Piccolo Teatro, 1981; Teatro Studio, 1996), Corneille’s L’Illusion (Odeon, 1984), Eduardo de Filippo’s La Grande magia (Piccolo Teatro, 1985), Faust, Part 1 and 2 (Teatro Studio, 1988-92), and Pierre Marivaux’s Island of Slaves (Piccolo Teatro 1994).
For opera, Ms Spinatelli designed costumes for productions of Bizet’s Carmen by Lamberto Puggelli (Baths of Caracalla) and Mauro Bolognini (Arena di Verona); Verdi’s Aida by Bolognini (Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1988), Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa by Lev Dodin (La Scala, 1999), Richard Strauss’s The Egyptian Helen by Denis Krief (Teatro Lirico, Cagliari, 2001). She also designed sets for Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans (Teatro Regio, Turin, 2002) and Verdi’s Luisa Miller (Teatro Massimo, Palermo, 2004; Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, 2008), both directed by Lamberto Puggelli.
As for ballet, Ms Spinatelli at first collaborated with the famous Italian ballerina Carla Fracci and her husband, director Beppe Menegatti. She was the first woman to design sets for Arena di Verona: she designed scenery for The Nutcracker choreographed by Milorad Miskovitch and featuring Fracci and Paolo Bortoluzzi. She has also worked on ballets choreographed by Roland Petit, George Balanchine (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Sleeping Beauty), Patrice Bart (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, The Flaming Heart), Robert North (Orlando, Tchaikovsky, Bach), Pierre Lacotte (Paquita), Amedeo Amodio (Romeo and Juliet, Carmen), Asami Maki (Raymonda, The Lady of the Camellias), Gheorghe Iancu (Scheherazade, Swan Lake), Derek Dean (Coppelia), and more. For the Polish National Ballet she designed sets and costumes for Chopin The Romantic Artist choreographed by Patrice Bart (2010) and Krzysztof Pastor’s Swan Lake (2017).
Overall, Ms Spinatelli has designed sets for more than three hundred productions. Apart from La Scala, she has worked for the Opéra national de Paris, London’s Royal Opera House, Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, Tokyo’s New National Theatre, along with other prestigious venues in Italy and abroad. In 1999 she was nominated for The Prix Benois de la Danse the sets for Bart’s Swan Lake staged in Berlin.