2007 – Franco ZeffirelliLeonardo Career Prize Winners
Maestro Franco Zeffirelli is one of the best known celebrities in the entertainment industry, and the symbol of the Italian art of stage design.
Born in Florence, he made his debut in Rome as an actor in the cinema and the theatre. He’s expressed his talent by staging various operatic productions in leading opera houses around the world, with the participation of outstanding Italian and international artists.
He was elected as Senator of the Republic in the electoral rolls of Forza Italia for two mandates, in 1992 and in 1996. His productions of The Turk in Italy with Maria Callas; Aida and La Bohème at La Scala in Milan; Carmen at the Vienna State Opera; Tosca, Turandot, Falstaff and La Traviata at the Metropolitan in New York; Aida, Il Trovatore, Carmen and Madame Butterfly in Verona; and Aida and La Traviata in Moscow and Tel Aviv, are unforgettable. Operas such as Don Giovanni, Aida, La Traviata and Tosca have been staged again at the Rome Opera House and La Scala in Milan with resounding success. In cinema his name is linked to such internationally renowned films as The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Romeo and Juliet and Callas Forever, all of which have been widely acclaimed by the general public and critics alike.
His works always accurately reconstruct particular environments, and feature stories with great emotional impact. He made Jesus of Nazareth for television, which has notched up a billion and a half viewers. Zeffirelli’s artistic choices are marked by constant devotion to great classics, especially Shakespearean ones, which in his hands have made a notable comeback to the big screen. His cinematic versions of great operatic masterpieces, such as Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, La Traviata and Othello admirably served to introduce the world of opera to new audiences. Franco Zeffirelli has also been responsible for great celebrations of the Catholic Church, including the opening of the Holy Year in 1974 in 1983, and the great celebratory concert for the bicentennial of Beethoven at the request of Pope Paul VI in 1970.