Franco Zeffirelli
(c) Ufficio Stampa, Firenze

Franco Zeffirelli died yesterday, 15 June, after a long illness in Rome. Born in Florence in 1923 – his original name being Gianfranco Corsi wanted to be an architect yet fell also for the theatre. In 1946 he joined Luchino Visconti’s Morelli-Stoppa Company as an actor and stage director. After several films he started to concentrate on stage design. His first major design for opera was a 1952 production of Gioachino Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri for La Scala in Milan.

Of particular interest is his 1964 Royal Opera House production of Tosca with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi. In the same year, he created Callas’ last Norma at the Paris Opera. Over the years he created several productions for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, including La Bohème, Tosca, Turandot and Don Giovanni. One of his masterworks was La Bohème from Milan’s Scala with Mirella Freni and Gianni Raimondi, conducted by Herbert von Karajan as well as a Falstaff conducted by Riccardo Muti.

He was also known for several of the movies he directed, especially the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. His 1967 version of The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton remains the best-known film adaptation of that play as well. His Jesus of Nazareth (1977) won acclaim and is still shown on Christmas and Easter in many countries.

Here are several reviews of Zeffirelli’s work published online by Pizzicato

Kitsch in Hochpotenz

Eine ‘Aida’ voller jugendlicher Leidenschaftlichkeit

Hommage an Luciano Pavarotti


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