One of the greatest Italian stage actresses has died in Rome at the age of 86.
Rossella Falk was a giant among Italian actresses, with a slightly arrogant air and regal poise which set her apart from many of her more earthy colleagues. The label “the Italian Greta Garbo” was well chosen, and even her hairstyle recalled that of the film star, though Falk’s career, unlike Garbo’s, continued well into her eighties. Her 2006 biography was called The Last Diva, and a diva she was. She frequented the likes of Jean Cocteau, Noël Coward, Dirk Bogarde, Peter O’Toole, and had a twenty-year friendship with Maria Callas, whom she later played in Terrence McNally’s Master Class.
Her main passion was for theatre, and she was the co-director of the prestigious Teatro Eliseo in Rome from 1981 to 1997. Falk’s authority on stage, and off, made her perfect for roles such as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter and Queen Elizabeth I in Schiller’s Mary Stuart. One of her last roles was as the famous classical pianist in Autumn Sonata in 2008. Her film and television appearances were rare, though she was cast in Federico Fellini’s 8½ and Robert Aldrich’s The Legend of Lylah Clare.