Zeffirelli began his career as an assistant to Luchino Visconti, who was a major influence on his life, taking him into opera, theatre and film.
As a director of opera in the 1950s, he became close to Maria Callas, and they worked together on 'La Traviata' in 1959 and then in 1964 their Royal Opera House production of Tosca. Zeffirelli's first film as a director was 'The Taming of the Shrew' with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. This was followed by 'Romeo and Juliet' which was to make Zeffirelli a household name. After these two successful adaptations of Shakespeare, Zeffirelli went on to religious themes with the life of St. Francis Assisi with 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon', and his all star cast television mini-series 'Jesus of Nazareth'. The charming story of his life, 'Tea with Mussolini' filmed in 1999 starred Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Joan Plowright. A Semi-autobiographical tale from his early life looks at the illegitimate son of an Italian businessman. The boy's mother has died, and he is raised by an Englishwoman in pre-WWII Fascist Italy.
This new documentary was filmed in Franco Zeffirelli’s home in Rome, the great man takes us through his career in film and opera. Interviews in his studio, his home and his incredible gardens where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton first met. Films discussed and clips include:
ROMEO & JULIET
JESUS OF NAZARETH
TEA WITH MUSSOLINI
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON