World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Luchino Visconti

Luchino Visconti
Born Luchino Visconti di Modrone
(1906-11-02)November 2, 1906
Milan, Lombardy, Kingdom of Italy
Died March 17, 1976(1976-03-17) (aged 69)
Rome, Italy
Relatives Eriprando Visconti (nephew)
Awards Palme d'Or
1963 Il Gattopardo
Golden Lion
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).


  • Life 1
  • Career 2
    • Films 2.1
    • Theatre 2.2
    • Filmography 2.3
      • Feature films 2.3.1
      • Other films 2.3.2
    • Opera 2.4
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Family arms

Luchino Visconti was born into a prominent noble family in Milan, one of seven children of Giuseppe Visconti di Modrone, Duke of Grazzano Visconti and Count of Lonate Pozzolo, and his wife Carla[1] (née Erba, heiress to Erba Pharmaceuticals). He was formally known as Count don Luchino Visconti di Modrone, and his family is a branch of the House of Visconti. In his early years, he was exposed to art, music and theatre: he studied cello with the Italian cellist and composer Lorenzo de Paolis (1890 - 1965) and met the composer Giacomo Puccini, the conductor Arturo Toscanini and the writer Gabriele D'Annunzio.

During World War II, Visconti joined the Italian Communist Party.

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,[2] 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.

Visconti suffered a stroke in 1972, but continued to smoke heavily. He died in Rome of another stroke at the age of 69. There is a museum dedicated to the director's work in Ischia.



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.[3]

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".[4] 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.[5]

Throughout the 1960s, Visconti's films became more personal. 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.


Feature films

Year Title Awards
1943 Obsession
1948 La terra trema Nominated – Golden Lion
1951 Bellissima
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
1972 Ludwig
1974 Conversation Piece
1976 The Innocent

Other films


Callas as Amina in La sonnambula
Maria Callas as Anna Bolena
Boris Christoff as Phillip II in Don Carlo
Conductor Josef Krips
Year Title and Composer Opera House Principal cast / Conductor
1954 La vestale,
Gaspare Spontini
Teatro alla Scala, Milan Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Ebe Stignani, Nicola Zaccaria
Conducted by Antonino Votto[6]
1955 La sonnambula,
Vincenzo Bellini,
La Scala Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti, Giuseppe Modesti
Conducted by Leonard Bernstein[7]
1955 La traviata,
Giuseppe Verdi
La Scala Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Ettore Bastianini
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini[8]
1957 Anna Bolena,
Gaetano Donizetti
La Scala Maria Callas, Giulietta Simionato, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni
Conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni[9]
1957 Iphigénie en Tauride,
Christoph Willibald Gluck
La Scala Maria Callas, Franceso Albanese, Anselmo Colzani, Fiorenza Cossotto
Conducted by Nino Sanzogno[10]
1958 Don Carlo, Verdi Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden, London
Jon Vickers, Tito Gobbi, Boris Christoff, Gré Brouwenstijn
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini[11]
1958 Macbeth, Verdi Spoleto Festival, Italy William Chapman & Dino Dondi; Ferruccio Mazzoli & Ugo Trama;Shakeh Vartenissian.
Conducted by Thomas Schippers[12]
1959 Il duca d'Alba, Donizetti Spoleto Festival[13] Luigi Quilico, Wladimiro Ganzarolli, Franco Ventriglia, Renato Cioni, Ivana Tosini.
Conductor: Thomas Schippers[14]
1961 Salome, Richard Strauss Spoleto Festival[13] George Shirley, Lili Chookasian, Margarei Tynes, Robert Anderson, Paul Arnold.
Conductor: Thomas Schippers[14]
1963 Il diavolo in giardino,
Franco Mannino (1963)
Teatro Massimo, Palermo[13] Ugo Benelli, Clara Petrella, Gianna Galli, Antonio Annaloro, Antonio Boyer.
Conductor: Enrico Medioli.
Libretto: Visconti & Filippo Sanjust[14]
1963 La traviata, Verdi Spoleto Festival Franca Fabbri, Franco Bonisolli, Mario Basiola
Conducted by Robert La Marchina[15]
1964 Le nozze di Figaro,
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma Rome[16] Rolando Panerai, Uva Ligabue, Ugo Trama, Martella Adani, Stefania Malagù.
Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini[14]
1964 Il trovatore Bolshoi Opera, Moscow (September) Pietro Cappuccilli, Gabriella Tucci, Giulietta Simionato, Carlo Bergonzi
Conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni[17]
1964 Il trovatore, Verdi Royal Opera House, London (November)
(Sanjust production)
Peter Glossop, Gwyneth Jones & Leontyne Price, Giulietta Simionato, Bruno Prevedi
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini[18]
1965 Don Carlo, Verdi Rome Opera Cesare Siepi, Gianfranco Cecchele, Kostas Paskalis, Martti Talvela, Suzanne Sarroca, Mirella Boyer.
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini.[19]
1966 Falstaff, Verdi Staatsoper, Vienna Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rolando Panerai, Murray Dickie, Erich Kunz,Ilva Ligabue, Regina Resnik.
Conducted by Leonard Bernstein[20]
1966 Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss Royal Opera House, London[16] Sena Jurinac, Josephine Veasey, Michael Langdon.
Conductor: [21]
1967 La traviata, Verdi Royal Opera House, London Mirella Freni, Renato Cioni, Piero Cappuccilli.
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini[22]
1969 Simon Boccanegra, Verdi Vienna Staatsoper, Vienna Eberhard Wächter, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Gundula Janowitz, Carlo Cossutta
Conducted by Josef Krips[23]
1973 Manon Lescaut,
Giacomo Puccini
Spoleto Festival[16] Nancy Shade, Harry Theyard, Angelo Romero, Carlo Del Bosco.
Conductor: Thomas Schippers.[14]



  1. ^ "M/M Icon: Luchino Visconti", Manner of Man Magazine online at, 2 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2012
  2. ^ Silva, Horacio, "The Aristocrat", The New York Times, 17 September 2006. (Overview of Visconti's life and career) Retrieved 7 November 2011
  3. ^ Iannello, p. ?
  4. ^ Nowell-Smith, p. 9.
  5. ^ "2nd Moscow International Film Festival (1961)". MIFF. Retrieved 2012-11-04. 
  6. ^ Ardoin 1977, p. 89
  7. ^ Ardoin 1977, p. 93
  8. ^ Ardoin 1977, p. 96
  9. ^ Ardoin 1977, p. 120
  10. ^ Ardoin 1977, p. 123
  11. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 113
  12. ^ Viscontiana 2001, pp. 62—63
  13. ^ a b c Viscontiana 2001, p. 142
  14. ^ a b c d e "Lirica": Operas directed by Visconti on
  15. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 64
  16. ^ a b c Viscontiana 2001, p. 143
  17. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 65
  18. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 65—66
  19. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 66
  20. ^ Viscontiana 2001, pp. 66—67
  21. ^ Royal Opera House performance archive for 21 April 1966 on
  22. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 67
  23. ^ Viscontiana 2001, p. 68


  • Ardoin, John, The Callas Legacy, London: Duckworth, 1977 ISBN 0-7156-0975-0
  • 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

External links

  • Luchino Visconti at the Internet Movie Database
  • Biography, Filmography and More on Luchino Visconti (Italian)
  • British Film Institute: "Luchino Visconti": filmography
  • Hutchison, Alexander, "Death in Venice"Luchino Visconti’s , Literature/Film Quarterly, v. 2, 1974. (In-Depth Analysis of Death in Venice).
  • Luchino Visconti at Find a Grave
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.