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|Born||Luchino Visconti di Modrone
November 2, 1906
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
|Died||March 17, 1976
1963 Il Gattopardo
1965 Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa
Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo (2 November 1906 – 17 March 1976), was an Italian theatre, opera and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter. He is best known for his films The Leopard (1963) and Death in Venice (1971).
Luchino Visconti, “born into an ancient aristocratic family in Milan, one of seven children of the Grand Duke of Modrone and his wife Carla (nee Erba, heiress to Erba Pharmaceuticals,)”  was formally known as Count don Luchino Visconti di Modrone. In his early years he was exposed to art, music and theatre, and met the composer Giacomo Puccini, the conductor Arturo Toscanini and the writer Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Visconti made no secret of his homosexuality. His last partner was the Austrian actor Helmut Berger, who played Martin in Visconti’s film The Damned. Berger also appeared in Visconti’s Ludwig in 1972 and Conversation Piece in 1974 along with Burt Lancaster. Other lovers included Franco Zeffirelli, who also worked as part of the crew in production design, as assistant director, and other roles in a number of Visconti’s films, operas, and theatrical productions.
He began his filmmaking career as an assistant director on Jean Renoir‘s Toni (1935) and Partie de campagne (1936), thanks to the intercession of their common friend, Coco Chanel. After a short tour of the United States, where he visited Hollywood, he returned to Italy to be Renoir’s assistant again, this time for La Tosca (1939), a production that was interrupted and later completed by German director Karl Koch because of World War II.
Together with Roberto Rossellini, Visconti joined the salotto of Vittorio Mussolini (the son of Benito, who was then the national arbitrator for cinema and other arts). Here he presumably also met Federico Fellini. With Gianni Puccini, Antonio Pietrangeli and Giuseppe De Santis, he wrote the screenplay for his first film as director: Ossessione (Obsession, 1943), the first neorealist movie and an unofficial adaptation of the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice.
In 1948, he wrote and directed La terra trema (The Earth Trembles), based on the novel I Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga. In the book by Silvia Iannello, Le immagini e le parole dei Malavoglia, the author selects some passages of the Verga novel, adds original comments and Acitrezza’s photographic images, and devotes a chapter to the origins, remarks and frames taken from the movie.
Visconti continued working throughout the 1950s, although he veered away from the neorealist path with his 1954 film, Senso, shot in colour. Based on the novella by Camillo Boito, it is set in Austrian-occupied Venice in 1866. In this film, Visconti combines realism and romanticism as a way to break away from neorealism. However, as one biographer notes, “Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism“. He describes the film as the “most Viscontian” of all Visconti’s films. Visconti returned to neorealism once more with Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), the story of Southern Italians who migrate to Milan hoping to find financial stability. In 1961, he was a member of the jury at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.
Throughout the 1960s, Visconti’s films became more personal. Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963), is based on Lampedusa‘s novel of the same name about the decline of the Sicilian aristocracy at the time of the Risorgimento. It starred American actor Burt Lancaster in the role of Prince Don Fabrizio. This film was distributed in America and Britain by Twentieth-Century Fox, which deleted important scenes. Visconti repudiated the Twentieth-Century Fox version.
It was not until The Damned (1969) that Visconti received a nomination for an Academy Award, for “Best Screenplay”. The film, one of Visconti’s best-known works, concerns a German industrialist’s family which slowly begins to disintegrate during the Nazi consolidation of power at the 30s. Its decadence and lavish beauty are characteristic of Visconti’s aesthetic.
Visconti’s final film was The Innocent (1976), in which he returns to his recurring interest in infidelity and betrayal.
Visconti was also a celebrated theatre and opera director. During the years 1946 to 1960 he directed many performances of the Rina Morelli–Paolo Stoppa Company with actor Vittorio Gassman as well as many celebrated productions of operas.
Visconti’s love of opera is evident in the 1954 Senso, where the beginning of the film shows scenes from the fourth act of Il trovatore, which were filmed at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. Beginning when he directed a production at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala of La vestale in December 1954, his career included a famous revival of La traviata at La Scala in 1955 with Maria Callas and an equally famous Anna Bolena (also at La Scala) in 1957 with Callas. A significant 1958 Royal Opera House (London) production of Verdi’s five-act Italian version of Don Carlos (with Jon Vickers) followed, along with a Macbeth in Spoleto in 1958 and a famous black-and-white Il trovatore with scenery and costumes by Filippo Sanjust at the Royal Opera House in 1964. In 1966 Visconti’s luscious Falstaff for the Vienna State Opera conducted by Leonard Bernstein was critically acclaimed. On the other hand, his austere 1969 Simon Boccanegra with the singers clothed in geometrical costumes provoked controversy.
|1948||La terra trema||Nominated – Golden Lion|
|1954||Senso||Nominated – Golden Lion|
|1957||Le notti bianche||Won – Silver Lion
Nominated – Golden Lion
|1960||Rocco and his Brothers||Won – Special Prize (Venice Film Festival)
Won – FIPRESCI Prize (Venice Film Festival)
Nominated – Golden Lion
|1963||The Leopard||Won – Palme d’Or|
|1965||Sandra||Won – Golden Lion|
|1967||The Stranger||Nominated – Golden Lion|
|1969||The Damned||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay|
|1971||Death in Venice||Won – 25th Anniversary Prize (Cannes Film Festival)
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Direction
- Giorni di gloria (it), documentary, 1945
- Appunti su un fatto di cronaca, short film, 1951
- Siamo donne (We, the Women), 1953, episode Anna Magnani
- Boccaccio ’70, 1961, based on the episode Il lavoro in Boccaccio‘s Decameron
- Le streghe (The Witches), 1967, episode La strega bruciata viva
- Alla ricerca di Tadzio (it), TV movie, 1970
- La vestale by Gaspare Spontini, 1954, La Scala with Maria Callas
- La sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini, 1955, La Scala with Maria Callas, conducted by Leonard Bernstein
- La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, 1955, La Scala with Maria Callas, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
- Anna Bolena by Gaetano Donizetti, 1957, La Scala with Maria Callas
- Iphigénie en Tauride by Christoph Willibald Gluck, 1957, La Scala with Maria Callas
- Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi, 1958, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
- Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi, 1958, Spoleto Festival
- Il duca d’Alba by Gaetano Donizetti, 1959, Spoleto Festival
- Salome by Richard Strauss, 1961, Spoleto Festival
- Il diavolo in giardino by Franco Mannino with libretto by Visconti, Filippo Sanjust and Enrico Medioli, 1963, Teatro Massimo, Palermo
- La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, 1963, Spoleto Festival
- Le nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1964, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma Rome
- Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, 1964, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Sanjust production); Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow (Carlos Benois production)
- Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi, 1965, Rome Opera
- Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi, 1966, Staatsoper, Vienna, with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conducted by Leonard Bernstein
- Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, 1966, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
- La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, 1967, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Mirella Freni
- Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi, 1969, Staatsoper, Vienna, with Eberhard Wächter, conducted by Josef Krips
- Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini, 1973, Spoleto Festival, with Nancy Shade and Harry Theyard
- “M/M Icon: Luchino Visconti”, Manner of Man Magazine online at mannerofman.blogspot.com, 2 November 2010 Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Silva, Horacio, “The Aristocrat”, The New York Times, 17 September 2006. Overview of Visconti’s life and career. Retrieved 7 November 2011
- Iannello, p. ?
- Nowell-Smith, p. 9.
- “2nd Moscow International Film Festival (1961)”. MIFF. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- Bacon, Henry, Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998 ISBN 0-521-59960-1
- Düttmann, Alexander García, Visconti: Insights into Flesh and Blood, translated by Robert Savage, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009 ISBN 9780804757409
- Iannello, Silvia, Le immagini e le parole dei Malavoglia Roma: Sovera, 2008 (in Italian)
- Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey, Luchino Visconti. London: British Film Institute, 2003. ISBN 0-85170-961-3
- Visconti bibliography, University of California Library, Berkeley. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
- Viscontiana: Luchino Visconti e il melodramma verdiano, Milan: Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, 2001. A catalog for an exhibition in Parma of artifacts relating to Visconti’s productions of operas by Verdi, curated by Caterina d’Amico de Carvalho, in Italian. ISBN 88-202-1518-7
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Luchino Visconti.|
- Luchino Visconti at the Internet Movie Database
- British Film Institute: Luchino Visconti
- Alexander Hutchison, “Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice”, Literature/Film Quarterly, v. 2, 1974, in-depth analysis of Death in Venice
- Biography, filmography and more on Luchino Visconti (Italian)
- Luchino Visconti at Find a Grave
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