Giorgio Albertazzi, Italian Theater Actor and Film Director, Dies at Age 92

By Philip Trapp on May 29, 2016 07:32 AM EDT

Giorgio Albertazzi, Italian actor and film director, has died at age 92. The artist was a pioneer of Italian film, a renowned thespian and recording artist. Albertazzi had a role in over 50 motion pictures and performed in numerous stage and screen theater productions.

As an actor, he performed often in Shakespeare's plays and collaborated with many of Italy's most prolific directors. Albertazzi debuted on stage in 1949 in Troilus and Cressida, directed by Luchino Visconti. The artist also worked with The Taming of the Shrew director Franco Zeffirelli.

Mid-century, Albertazzi directed a respected group of Italian films. Some of his most revered screen productions include 1962's Eva, an Italian-French drama starring Stanley Baker and Jeanne Moreau, and White Nights from 1957, based on the Fyodor Dostoevsky short story.

The actor was particularly aligned with the title role of Memoirs of Hadrian, based on the book by French writer Marguerite Yourcenar. He played the role more than 1,000 times into his 90s, only debuting in the part at the age of 66.

In a Chicago Sun Times retrospective piece on the artist, Albertazzi was quoted poetically summarizing his life's work in relation to his role as Hadrian:

"Doing it, I also speak of myself," Albertazzi said when he was 90. "After all, I feel -- a lot -- the end of beauty that is consumed, that runs through the text, that seizes the moment in which the harmony of body and mind breaks and enters in conflict."

U.S. News & World Report featured a fellow director praising Albertazzi's accomplishments:

"He was the greatest Italian actor," said Gigi Proietti, who directed Albertazzi in Falstaff. '"The public knew that very well, and perhaps he, too, was conscious of having the task of being the last of the greats" of the 1900s.

The artist died in his home of Tuscany on Saturday. The entire country was in a state of mourning for Albertazzi this weekend, and Italian President Sergio Mattarella even offered his condolences.

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