La Scala mourns a favourite film star

The home of Italian opera has put up a short tribute to Valentina Cortese, the film star who died today aged 96.

A leading actor in films by directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and François Truffaut, and curiously cast as Herodias in Zeffirelli’s miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, Valentina was a regular operagoer in glamourous gowns, happy to pose with great singers and conductors.

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  • “curiously cast as Herodias in Zeffirelli’s miniseries Jesus of Nazareth”

    Curious, yes, but she worked effectively alongside the great Christopher Plummer’s rather jittery Herod Antipas.

    • In Ingrid Bergman’s remarks accepting the 1974 supporting-actress Oscar for a small role in “Murder on the Orient Express,” she more or less said that it should have gone to Valentina, who was in the audience. “I’m her rival, and I don’t like it at all.” A gracious moment for two eloquent professionals.

    • Very true! And it was remarkable that Ingrid Bergman acknowledged how great Valentina’s performance had been when, incredibly, Ingrid and not Valentina, was awarded the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role that year. It is rare, maybe unprecedented, for an award winner to acknowledge that the award clearly went to the wrong actress.

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