This exhibition is a key part of the series of events aimed at reviving interest in the actress Lyda Borelli (1887-1959). Entitled Lyda Borelli: A Leading Lady of the 20th Century, the show has been curated by Maria Ida Biggi, the director of the Fondazione Cini Institute of Theatre and Opera, and installed in the elegant setting of the house-museum of the Palazzo Cini at San Vio, now open again thanks to a partnership with Assicurazioni Generali.
Through a remarkable series of photographs and rare archive documents, the exhibition tells the story of one of the most fascinating Italian stars of the early 20th century, her great achievements on the stage in Italy and worldwide, and her enormous success in cinema. Daughter of the actors Napoleone Borelli and Cesira Banti, Lyda was already often on the stage as child, and she officially debuted alongside Virginia Reiter in 1901. In 1903, she joined Virgilio Talli’s company and, until she retired in 1918, she worked with the greatest actors of the day and was the greatly acclaimed leading lady in plays by writers such as Gabriele D’Annunzio, Oscar Wilde and Sem Benelli. Her image as a theatre actress paved the way to her status as an Art Nouveau icon of style and gracefulness created by her subsequent film roles that were enormously popular with wider audiences.
The exhibition project, organised in agreement with Lyda Borelli’s heirs, has been produced in collaboration with institutions such as the SIAE-Biblioteca e Raccolta Teatrale del Burcardo, Rome; Fratelli Alinari. Fondazione per la Storia della Fotografia, Florence; ICCD – Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione, Rome; Biblioteca e Archivio storico di Casa Lyda Borelli, Bologna; and the Fondazione Cineteca Italiana, Milan.