Florence Honors Franco Zeffirelli: Museum and Performing Arts Center Set to Open in September

By Logan Martell

Opening in September, the International Center for the Performing Arts will give visitors the chance to look into the life’s work of revered opera and film director Franco Zeffirelli.

Located behind the historic Palazzo Vecchio, the center will offer access to not only thousands of books on art, history, music, but courses on stage design as well as concerts and theatrical performances.

Zeffirelli’s contributions to the stage and screen span over seventy years, beginning as a stage designer in La Scala under the tutelage of Luchino Visconti. Visitors to the museum will be delighted to see the paintings and sketches that laid the groundwork for many of his productions, such as “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Tosca,” “Don Giovanni,” and “Carmen.” Also featured will be the costumes worn by figures such as Joan Sutherland, Gianni Raimondi, and Luciano Pavarotti. This portal into Zeffirelli’s work leads one into an entire world of creative endeavor, such as his collaboration with Maria Callas, with whom he staged six operas in ten years.

Among Zeffirelli’s film works are “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” a depiction of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the British television mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth.” He adapted many of the works of Shakespeare to great success, such as “Romeo and Juliet” (noted for casting actors close in age to the characters); “Hamlet” with prominent actors Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, and Ian Holm; “The Taming of the Shrew” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; and “Otello” with Placido Domingo and Katia Ricciarelli. His partnership with Maria Callas was given heartfelt tribute twenty five years after her death with the film “Callas Forever.”

With such religious, cultural, and historical significance highlighting Zeffirelli’s career, the International Center for the Performing Arts will be right at home behind the Palazzo Vecchio, serving as a nexus of the glory days of the past as it inspires artists towards the future.