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The Milan-born art director, costumer, interior designer and painter studied at the prestigious Brera Academy of Fine Arts and considered a career as an architect before turning to the theatre and cinema.
A few of Quaranta’s noteworthy credits in the field of cinema include Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, Paul Mazursky’s Tempest, NBC’s epic miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and the recently acclaimed A Room With a View directed by James Ivory.
Long a favored collaborator of director Franco Zeffirelli, Quaranta was art director on Otello starring Placido Domingo. Two earlier films he did with Zeffirelli — Brother Sun, Sister Moon and La Traviata — netted Quaranta nominations for an Academy Award while he was still in his thirties. The two worked together when Quaranta executed sets for Zeffirelli’s new production of Puccini’s Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Quaranta, in fact, is as active in theatre, opera and ballet as in cinema. He has done operatic productions at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice (Wolf Ferrari’s Quattro Rusteghi); at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston (La Traviata); at the Bregenz Festival (Verdi’s Finto Stanislavo) and at the Dallas Opera (Carmen). He also designed Luigi Cherubini’s Demophoon, directed by Luca Ronconi, at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera.
Some of his theatrical credits include Volpone (Theatre de la Ville, Paris); Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (Teatro Quirino, Rome); Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors at the outdoor theatre in Ostia outside Rome; and Alfred De Musset’s Lorenzaccio at the Comedie Française, directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
Quaranta has kept active over the years as an architect (private commissions), interior designer and painter. His drawings and paintings were exhibited at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto as part of a large show entitled New Tendencies in Italian Contemporary Painting.
Quaranta’s work for Herbert Ross’ A Time to Dance is the two-part assignment that is in one sense unique. His stage designs for the ballet Giselle, incorporated in the film, will be seen first in the theatre and only later on the screen. After presentation in Los Angeles in March 1987, his Giselle production traveled to New York for American Ballet Theatre’s regular season at the Metropolitan Opera.