An afternoon with Zeffirelli in the garden of his Roman villa, a stone’s throw from the Cinecitta studios, brought back memories of a bygone age when directors flitted easily from opera to film and back.
Franco was brought into the business by his lover Luchino Visconti but soon cut a dash in his own right. He talks to me uninhibitedly about growing up a bastard, fighting with the partisans, seeing Mussolini hung in the piazza and making his mark on showbiz with Maria Callas, Jesus of Nazareth, Silvio Berlusconi and a cast of thousands.
Hear him on The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 next Monday, and streamed all week on-line, here:
If you’re quick about, you can still catch last week’s rare and unbuttoned chat with Christoph von Dohnanyi.