LIFE

Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96

Italian , famed for operas, films and television, has died in Rome at the age of 96. Zefffirelli's son Luciano said his father died at home at noon on Saturday. "He had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way," he said. Zeffirelli delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and often extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic rendering of "Romeo and Juliet" and the miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth."

, the film and opera acclaimed for movies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and opulent lyrical productions on the world's major stages, died on Saturday at the age of 96.

Often appreciated more by the public than critics, Zeffirelli was the last of a generation of Italian film giants who came of age after World War Two and included Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica.

He directed more than two dozen films, working with stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness, Faye Dunaway, and Jon Voight.

"Franco Zeffirelli, one of the world's greatest men of culture, passed away this morning," Dario Nardella, the mayor of Zeffirelli's home city of Florence, announced on Twitter. "Goodbye dear Maestro, Florence will never forget you."

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