Romeo And Juliet director Franco Zeffirelli dies aged 96

Franco Zeffirelli Credit: AP

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who was famed for productions including the 1968 movie adaptation of Romeo And Juliet, has died in Rome at the age of 96.

Zeffirelli’s son Luciano said his father had died at home, adding he “had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way”.

Elizabeth Taylor gets kisses from her husband, Richard Burton, right, and director Franco Zeffirelli during a party to celebrate the completion of "The Taming of the Shrew," in July 1966. Credit: AP

The director delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and often extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic rendering of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet – a hit with critics as well as at the box office – and the lavish TV miniseries Jesus Of Nazareth.

Showing great flexibility, he produced classics for the world’s most famous opera houses, from Milan’s venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan in New York, as well as plays for London and Italian stages.