Giulia Lazzarini, one of Giorgio Strehler’s favourite actress, and for decades a constant presence on the stage of Milan’s famed Piccolo Teatro, is 80 and, rightly, it was at the Piccolo Teatro that her birthday was celebrated this week.
Looking ten-years younger, she is continuing to work on stage, and will play the mother in Nanni Moretti’s next film Mia Madre (My Mother). With Alberto Bentoglio from the University of Milan and critic Maurizio Porro, she was taken through some of the highlights of her career which includes plays and classics of literature transmitted live in the pioneering days of television, film, and above all, the theatre. Legendary are the productions by Strehler with Lazzarini, the most memorable of all being Beckett’s Happy Days, Varya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard with Valentina Cortese, Polly in Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera and her striking and physically demanding Ariel in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, where she was flown on a single wire throughout the performance.
A book and a documentary have also come out to celebrate Milan’s cherished actress; a woman with a warm smile and a timid presence yet when on stage is a powerhouse performer, who also possesses a wonderful comedic touch. This was all present at the Piccolo Teatro as she recounted anecdotes about her performances, occasionally slipping into her characters as though she’d left them just the day before.
Buon compleanno Giulia!