Franco Zeffirelli, an Italian director who crossed genres from film to opera to theater, has died in Rome at the age of 96. Zeffirelli was the illegitimate child of a philandering merchant, according to his biography. He went on to direct Elizabeth Taylor in Taming of the Shrew and worked on adapting other Shakespearean works into Hollywood films and introducing Hollywood-style effects into traditional Italian opera. He was criticized in Italy for trying to Americanize Italian opera, but his audiences generally loved him. His productions were core performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for more than 40 years. He also produced Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca at Covent Garden in London, and his work was a regular fixture in Italy’s largest opera houses.
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