Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

Franco Zeffirelli, who directed the world’s greatest opera singers and brought Shakespeare to the cinema-going masses, has died. He was 96.

In a statement, his foundation said he died in Rome on Saturday. “Ciao Maestro,” said the announcement.

Often appreciated more by the public than critics, Zeffirelli was the last of a generation of Italian film giants who came of age after World War Two, including Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica.

He directed more than two dozen films, working with stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, Faye Dunaway, and Jon Voight.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Zeffirelli would “remain in the hearts and the history of this country.”

Zeffirelli’s opera productions for the stage included singers such as Maria Callas, Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Scotto and Jose Carreras.

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