Tino Carraro, one of Italy’s most acclaimed legit actors and a fixture at the renowned Piccolo Teatro, died Jan. 12 of cardiac arrest in a hospital near his home in Milan. He was 84.
Born in Milan in 1910, Carraro attended the city’s Academy of Amateur Dramatics, making his stage debut in 1939 in “Much Ado About Nothing.” In the period immediately after World War II, he joined a theater company with Laura Adani, Ernesto Calindri and Vittorio Gassmann. Despite the tough times, they managed to stage about 60 plays from 1944 to 1946.
Long before the Piccolo Teatro came into being, Carraro established a successful working relationship with its founder, director Giorgio Strehler. They collaborated on six productions in 1946, including plays by Eugene O’Neill and Maxim Gorky.
After working in a string of distinguished productions for various companies and directors, Carraro was reunited with Strehler in 1952, when the Piccolo was established. His major successes during the early years included “Julius Caesar,” “The Threepenny Opera” and “The Cherry Orchard,” latter directed by Luchino Visconti.
His association with Strehler was interrupted in 1962, following resentment over the director’s casting of a rival thesp in Brecht’s “The Life of Galileo.” Moving to Rome, he won acclaim in “The Merchant of Venice,” John Osborne’s “Inadmissible Evidence” and Luigi Pirandello’s “The Pleasure of Honesty.” Carraro returned to Milan and Strehler’s fold in 1971 for a production of Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” directed by Patrice Chereau. He remained there for the rest of his career, strengthening his reputation throughout the 1970s with memorable perfs in “King Lear,” “The Tempest,” Jean Genet’s “The Balcony” and Ben Jonson’s “Volpone,” directed by Gabriele Lavia.
Among Carraro’s more recent successes were a production of Goethe’s “Faust” directed by Strehler in 1989 and “The Mountain Giants” in 1994. In the unfinished play by Pirandello, Carraro’s role was to inform the audience of the process by which a fitting epilogue for the work was arrived at. The actor’s respiratory problems and failing health caused Strehler to convince him to opt out of the national tour.
Carraro worked extensively in theatrical productions for TV, notably a 1952 version of “Macbeth.” His screen appearances were less frequent, with a role in Francesco Rosi’s 1976 film “Illustrious Corpses” perhaps the most enduring.
He is survived by his wife, former actress Maria Mayer, and two daughters.