Franco Zeffirelli, directed ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ dies at 96 ROME — Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and extravagant productions, most famously captured in his cinematic “Romeo and Juliet” and the miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth,” died Saturday at 96. While Zeffirelli was most popularly known for his films, his name was also inextricably linked to the theater and opera. He produced classics for the world’s most famous opera houses, from Milan’s venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and plays for London and Italian stages. Zeffirelli’s son Luciano said his father died at home in Rome. ”He had suffered for a while, but he left in a peaceful way,” he said.