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June 16, 1987| Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Elizabeth Taylor will play an aging opera singer in Italian director Franco Zeffirelli's new film "The Young Toscanini," based on the legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini's early years in Italy and Brazil. Taylor will portray Russian opera star Nadina Bulishov, with whom the young conductor fell in love. Bulishov's declining voice and career were given a resurgence by Toscanini's attentions. C. Thomas Howell will star as the young Italian maestro. "The role of Nadina seems to have been made for Elizabeth," said Zeffirelli. "There's no one like her--she's a little crazy, but there are very few divas left in the world and she's one of them." Shooting of the $14-million production will begin Aug. 18, with the release scheduled for March.

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