Franco Zeffirelli

Authored by: Tom Matheson , Russell Jackson , Robert Smallwood

The Routledge Companion to Directors’ Shakespeare

Print publication date:  April  2010
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415400442
eBook ISBN: 9780203932520
Adobe ISBN: 9781134146482


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The sudden death of Tom Matheson, our dear friend and colleague, on 16 October 2006, before he was able to finish this essay, has left us with the privilege of bringing his work to completion. We could not hope, of course, to reproduce the flair that he would have brought to the task, or the instinctive personal enthusiasm for so Anglo-Italian a topic, but we trust that we have fulfilled his main intentions for the piece and we respectfully and affectionately dedicate our endeavours to his memory (R.J., R.S.).

‘Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet’, the drama critic of the Observer ringingly declared on 9 October 1960, ‘is a revelation, even perhaps a revolution’. On the other side of the Channel, its director was embarking on his next project, a production of Rigoletto in Brussels, having left London dejected by a chorus of reviews in the daily press ‘so damning they beggared belief’. But reading Kenneth Tynan that Sunday, Zeffirelli could take comfort: ‘it no longer mattered what the others had said; the master had spoken’ (Zeffirelli 1986: 164).

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