How do they do it? Nearly fifteen years ago I watched The Romance The Life of Lillian Dal Monte. The VHS production with script written by Michael Canadas, David Robinson and Janet Hollingsworth was captivating, with fashion dolls becoming fully realized characters in a drama about the rise to stardom of an opera singer, one who achieves worldwide acclaim and then finds her true love. Fast forward these many years, the VHS format now virtually obsolete. It was time to redo the The Romance as a DVD. Viewing it for the second time I was struck anew by its professionalism — in fact, I nearly forgot that I was watching dolls! The story is told by Delia, younger sister to Lillian. After the tragic death of their young mother, the girls are sent to France to live with Grandmama. There Lillian meets Madame Bruvanska who recognizes her enormous singing talents and becomes her teacher and mentor. When the lead performer in Lucia becomes ill, Lillian is chosen to replace her and a star is born. Michael Canadas created the exquisite costumes, lavish
with embellishments, some taking hundreds of hours to create and the extravagant wigs; the breathtaking sets were made by David Robinson. Rich color, sparkling jewels, beautiful bouquets, sophisticated lighting that simulates the soft glow of gas lights or radiant sunshine... it is a magical presentation. Many of the costumes used in the original production were redone to even greater perfection. Throughout the forty-two minute program, sublime operatic music tells a story of romance and love. We follow the career of Lillian in Delia’s own words (the lovely narration of Delia Green) as she wins over audiences in Paris, St. Petersburg, Venice and her transforming performance in Milan. It is here that she meets Jean Phillipe Valentine, a long time admirer who pledges his love and devotion. The perfect happy ending — the couple are married, Lillian radiant in a magnificent gown. Enchanting, you will long remember this tale told through music and fashion. Antique Doll Collector Magazine
"I would like to thank you for The Romance DVD, which I watched and it was incredible! The costumes, the sets, and especially the music -- I actually wept! I now have an even greater respect for your talents and skills, and that of your partner David. You did bring your dolls to life and I cannot wait to show all the ladies in our doll club some day soon. I also want to wish you both all the best in your new shop in Pacific Grove." S. C.
"I wanted to email you both, while it is on my mind, to tell you just how WONDERFUL your DVD of "The Romance" was! I found it to be absolutely superb! My husband even watched it with me and commented on how exquisitely it was done! Magnifique!" L. D.
"Can't tell you how much we enjoyed the adventures of the lovely Dal Monte, or how deep is our admiration for the technical skills involved. My husband makes videos of just about everything we do, and he knows how hard it is to get pacing and lighting, sound married to image, just right. As for the costumes and sets -- there are no words." J. C.
"Your video is awesome. I love, love, loved it. You certainly out did yourselves this time. I can't even imagine how much time it took you to put it all together." C. K.
"...just viewed “The Romance.” Bravo. It was amazing as I truly understand what went into it having done photo shoots myself…..all the writing, music, finding the right pictures, needless to say the fabulous costumes, hair and jewels. It was really wonderful." S. N.
"Thank you so much for the DVD -- it is definitely worth the wait. I also loved the article in Doll News - 'Dressing a Diva - The World of Lillian Dal Monte.'
The costumes and patterns were so beautiful!" H. T.
"I just received my copy of 'The Romance.' I loved the presentation when I saw it in New Harmony and I am thrilled to have my own copy. The note accompanying the DVD stated that you donated the DVDs -- which was amazingly generous - and the sponsoring club is now able to give an additional $2000 to disabled American veterans. As a veteran myself, and the wife of a deceased veteran, thank you! Through all of this you showed yourselves to be true gentlemen. Thank you for the beautiful program." D. W.
"Utterly remarkable. What you have created touches me in a way I had not anticipated. The combination of the music that has filled my life for 55 years, and one specific voice that has given me not only joy and happiness, but often times strength...combined with the unexpected emotional depth you have somehow transmitted through small treasurable works of art made of bisque...well, I don't have any words to adequately express my feelings. The never ending power of the music so dear to me, plus the extraordinary beauty of the dolls and their glorious costumes...Oh, I think I'll give up trying to verbalize my reaction. I'm overwhelmed! I will watch this unique creation of yours hundreds of times." M. S.
"It is a triumph! Details, details, details! You just outdid yourselves. The wigs! The clothes! The sets! The jewelry! The hours of work (or play)! Loved the display of wedding gifts. I would like to see the whole film in slow motion -- all the extra shots made it so much more interesting. There should be some kind of an award that you could win for it. I wish everybody could see it. Thank you so much for making this film for everybody. You have thanks and gratitude coming to you every time it is played". B. T.