Pictures: Venice collides with Monaco at Dreaming in Azur charity gala

The Hôtel Hermitage was plunged into the fantastical world of Venice for Dreaming in Azur on Saturday night, an exclusive charity gala in aid of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. We spoke to its artistic director Antonia Sautter. 

Antonia Sautter is the creative mind behind Il Ballo del Doge, an extravagant gala event held exclusively during the Venice Carnival every February, in which she combines the creative arts, costume, fabrics and her love of Venice and its history.

At her Atelier in the small island city, more than 1,200 creations are kept: period costumes that cross history from the Middle Ages to the 1920s, and stage costumes born from Sautter’s fantasties, specially created for artists over a period spanning more than 20 editions of Il Ballo del Doge.

She is, perhaps, one of Venice’s best ambassadors.

Dreaming in Azur, photo credit: Philippe Fitte / FPA2

In 1999, she was selected by Stanley Kubrick to make the masks used in his cinematic masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut. As part of her events company, she was asked to create an Eyes Wide Shut-themed party. It was a wife’s gift to her husband.

Antonia Sautter – the artistic director, fashion designer, and event planner, was recently voted by Forbes as one of the top 100 successful Italians.

Now, for the first time, Antonia Sautter has brought her creative talents to Monaco for Dreaming in Azur, a gala dinner organised by The Venetian Arts Foundation for the benefit of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and featuring special guest, renowned singer and songwriter MIKA.

“I am so excited, you can’t even imagine,” Antonia Sautter told Monaco Life from her Venice atelier ahead of the gala. “In a matter of days, we will be on the most beautiful stage at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monaco for Prince Albert. It is such an honour, I can’t even describe it in words – I am beyond excited and honoured.”

Dreaming in Azur, photo credit: Philippe Fitte / FPA2

A team of 80 made the short trip from Venice, in northern Italy, to Monaco. Among them: artists, performers, seamstresses, staff. The evening saw no less than 100 costume changes. The Queen of the Sea was the overriding theme, in honour of Prince Albert’s mission in life and the work of his Foundation.

The Venetian Arts Foundation, which aims to protect and promote the figurative and musical arts with a focus on Venetian talents, had chosen Venetian-born Antonia Sautter as artistic director of the show for the first charity and cultural event organised by the foundation on Saturday 1st October at the Hôtel Hermitage in Monte-Carlo. All of the proceeds raised will be donated to support coastal resilience and marine protection projects, an initiative promoted by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

“We are pleased to announce that the first cultural event organised by our foundation, to benefit the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, boasts an important charitable scope: fundraising to support specific projects of the well-known Monegasque foundation to protect coastal resilience and to raise awareness on climate change and the rise of the seas,” said Daniela Di Giorgio and Filippo Ghirelli, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and founders of the Venetian Arts Foundation.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase a spectacle by one of the most talented Venetian artists, Antonia Sautter, a global symbol of Made in Venice, to an international audience. It represents for our Foundation a very happy official debut, in accordance with our primary mission that is to promote Italian artistic and cultural excellence all over the world. “

Filippo Ghirelli and Daniela Di Giorgio, founders of the Venetian Arts Foundation, credit: Philippe Fitte / FPA2

Antonia Sautter uses silks and velvets to reinterpret ancient techniques of dyeing and printing by hand. She is overwhelmingly passionate about her city of Venice and is excited at the new link the Venetian Arts Foundation has forged with the Principality.

Dreaming in Azur symbolises the closeness of Venice to Monaco,” said Antonia Sautter. “An elegant tribute with great emotional impact, which can unite these two similar cities in sharing a fragile beauty, given their links to the sea. I believe that Venice – with its history, atmosphere, and peculiar ‘liquid soul’ that I will stage with Dreaming in Azur – could really help us reflect on the effects of climate change and on what we, as humanity, could lose forever. I hope that the dreamlike immersion in its beauty that I created together with the artists of Il Ballo del Doge will concretely contribute to the charitable purpose of the evening, to remind all guests to contribute to the fight against rising sea level.”

A 2021 report published in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences suggested that the average sea level could be anywhere from 17cm to 120cm higher in Venice by 2100. “These are the effects of climate change,” Venice’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in response to the 2019 floods. “The costs will be high.”

Prince Albert II with singer songwriter Mika at Dreaming in Azur. Photo credit: Philippe Fitte / FPA2

The Dreaming in Azur charity gala took the place of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser – the Monte-Carlo Gala for Planetary Health – which was postponed this year due to the war in Ukraine.

It means that important donations continue to be funnelled into the Prince’s Foundation, even during times of political turmoil.

“Thanks to the Venetian Arts Foundation, we will be able to strengthen our efforts in favour of coastal resilience, a common issue between Venice and Monaco, but also for many cities around the world,” said Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

“That is why the Foundation has launched an initiative dedicated to the Nexus Ocean-Climate-Biodiversity: we namely support pathways for mitigation of climate impacts and adaptation. We also federate experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and mayors of cities most at risk around innovative solutions.”

Antonia Sautter told Monaco Life that she hopes this is the start of a long relationship with the Principality.

 “I am very happy with this collaboration and I really hope there will be other occasions to present this work in Monaco,” said the artistic director. “Every time I do a show, it is a new world.”


Click on the gallery to see more images below, photos credit Philippe Fitte / FPA2…


Photo above of Antonia Sautter amongst performer of Dreaming in Azur, credit: Osvaldo Di Pietrantonio



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