BBC Radio 3, 18 April 2010
Filmed in the early 1960s with Burt Lancaster in the title role, The Leopard is an episodic drama tracing the history of a noble Sicilian family from 1860 until 1910. This period marked a traumatic period in Italian history, marking the decline of the old bourgeoisie and the growth of central government.
The head of the family is Don Fabrizio (Stanley Townsend), who perhaps is the only one aware of its traditions, memories and origins in Italian society. The younger elements are desperate to escape, but find themselves unable to adjust to changing times. The Leopard describes the inevitable march of progress, where the family can no longer forge advantageous marriages and poverty creeps in insidiously yet inexorably.
In truth Lucy Bailey's production could hardly be described as very dramatic, as the action followed a predictable course. However some of the performances were worth listening to, notably Tom Hiddleston as the son of the family Tancredi, Harry McEntire as Giovanni and Hayley Atwell as Angelica. Michael Hastings' adaptation - rather than a translation - was supple yet brisk in tone.