Franco Zeffirelli, KBE (b. 1923) is a true renaissance man of the arts. Starting out as an actor and stage designer, his distinguished career has spanned Film, TV, Theatre and Opera and his contribution to the dramatic arts has been recognised across the world.
As a film director he won international acclaim for his adaptations of Shakespeare. His debut as a director was The Taming of The Shrew with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor followed by Romeo & Juliet which is still considered as the standard adaptation to show students.
His theatrical productions ranged from Othello in Stratford to La Dame Aux Camelias on Broadway and the list of those with whom he has worked is a veritable Who's Who of both the stage and screen.
He is however best known for his majestic Opera productions. He has been a major Opera Director since the 1950s and responsible for some of the most memorable performances by some of the greatest names in the business including Maria Callas, Placido Domingo, Herbert Von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein and Luciano Pavarotti. His productions encompass all the major operas and have toured extensively introducing the art form to new audiences all over the world.
His contribution to society has not stopped there, he has also directed major ceremonies for the Catholic Church and was a member of the Italian Senate between 1994 - 2001. In November 2004 he was awarded an honourary knighthood by the United Kingdom for his services to the arts.