Franco Zeffirelli

Infobox Actor
name = Franco Zeffirelli

caption =
birthdate = birth date and age|1923|2|12
location = Florence, Tuscany, Italy
birthname = Gianfranco Corsi
othername =
spouse =
yearsactive =
imdb_id =
baftaawards = Best Production Design
1983 "La Traviata"

Franco Zeffirelli, KBE (born Gianfranco Corsi on February 12, 1923), is an Italian film director. He is also an opera director, designer and producer of opera, theatre, film and television.

Internationally, he is known for having directed the 1968 film version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" for which he was nominated to receive an Academy Award. His 1977 television mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth" also won acclaim and is still shown on Easter weekend in many countries.


Zeffirelli was born and grew up in Florence, under the auspices of the British expatriate community and was particularly involved with the so-called Scorpioni who inspired his semi-autobiographical 1999 film "Tea With Mussolini".

During World War II, he fought as a partisan before he met up with the British soldiers of the 1st Scots Guards and became their interpreter. In the post war years, he studied art and architecture at the University of Florence, and worked with directors such as Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini and Luchino Visconti.

In the 1960s, he made his name designing and directing his own plays in London and New York, and soon transferred his ideas to cinema.

Zeffirelli has also been a major director of opera productions since the 1950s in Italy, Europe, and the U.S.. Of particular note is his 1964 Royal Opera House production of "Tosca" with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, and several productions for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, including "La bohème" and "Turandot". Also of note is his set design for Madama Butterfly in the fall of 1985 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In November 2004 he was awarded an honorary knighthood by the United Kingdom. [ [|"UK honour for director Zeffirelli"] , BBC News. Accessed May 27, 2008] In 1999 he received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Zeffirelli is openly gay.cite web
last =Smith
first =Patricia Juliana
title =Zeffirelli, Franco
publisher =glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,Transgender, and Queer Culture
date =2005-01-09
url =
accessdate =2007-08-07
] He has received criticism from religious groups for what they call the blasphemous representation of biblical figures in his films and also criticism from members of the gay community for publicly backing the Roman Catholic Church with regard to homosexual issues. Director Bruce Robinson claimed to have been the target of unwanted sexual advances by Zeffirelli during the filming of "Romeo and Juliet" in which Robinson had a minor acting role. Robinson says that he based the lecherous character of Uncle Monty in the film "Withnail and I" on Zeffirelli. [cite web
last =Murphy
first =Peter
title =Interview with Bruce Robinson
url =
accessdate =2007-08-07
[ ]

In 2007, disappointed with the manner in which Pope Benedict XVI had been presenting himself to the media, Zeffirelli openly offered his services to the Pontiff as an image consultant. In connection with this matter, he was quoted as saying "I am a Christian down to the depths of my spirit."cite web | last=Aliosi |first=Silvia | title=Film-maker Zeffirelli vows to help Pope with image |url = | date = 2007-12-15 | accessdate=2007-12-15]


Zeffirelli has also been a member of the Italian senate since 1996, representing the conservative Forza Italia party.

elected filmography

* "Falstaff" (1964)
* "La bohème" (1965)
* "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967)
* "Romeo and Juliet" (1968) Academy Award nominee, director
* "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (1972)
* "Jesus of Nazareth" (1977)
* "The Champ" (1979)
* "Endless Love" (1981)
* "Cavalleria Rusticana" (1982) with Plácido Domingo and Elena Obraztsova
* "Pagliacci" (1982) with Plácido Domingo and Teresa Stratas
* "La Traviata" (1983) — Academy Award nominee, BAFTA winner, art direction; with Teresa Stratas and Plácido Domingo
* "La bohème" (1982)
* "Tosca" (1985), a live Metropolitan Opera production
* "Otello" (1986) — BAFTA winner, foreign language film; with Plácido Domingo and Katia Ricciarelli
* "Hamlet" (1990)
* "Don Giovanni" ( A television Metropolitan Opera production)
* "Storia di una capinera" also known as "Sparrow" (1993) with Sheherazade Ventura
* "Il tabarro (Puccini)" (1994)
* "Jane Eyre" (1996)
* "Tea With Mussolini" (1999)
* "Callas Forever" (2002)


External links

* [] Interview: Maria Callas and "Callas Forever"
* [ Interview with Zeffirelli from 1999 about Tea With Mussolini]

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