My essay "Zeffirelliana," originally published in the current coffee-table book Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works (Abrams), included an aside about the master's unusual if not unique surname. The story so far: After the death of Zeffirelli's mother, a cousin is said to have claimed that the deceased had wanted to call her boy Zeffiretti--little zephyrs, or breezes--after a line from a favorite aria in Mozart's Così fan tutte. Supposedly a clerk forgot to cross the T's, and the rest is history.
If only it were true. As I have pointed out, the word zeffiretti does not occur in Così fan tutte at all, let alone in an aria. Così does feature, in a duet, the word aurette, which means exactly the same thing, but that is no help at all. The word we need is found right at the top of an aria from Mozart's early masterpiece Idomeneo ("Zeffiretti lusinghieri," meaning, freely translated, "Gentle breezes, who will tell me what I want to hear"). But that is not much help either. Though standard repertory today, in 1923, when Zeffirelli was born, Idomeneo was known only to specialists. It's not eintirely impossible that Zeffirelli's mother had come across the aria in concert, but the odds say no.
Here's another somewhat less unlikely source: Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Not that Figaro was a great favorite of Italians at that time, either. Three decades later, when Renata Tebaldi sang the Figaro Countess (in what the irascible Arturo Toscanini described, in another context, as "truly the voice of an angel), Figaro was still a rarity. Still, the delicious duet "Sull' aria." sung by two sopranos plotting an amorous intrigue, is one that might stick in an astute lady's ear. The word we are looking for occurs here in the singular--zeffiretto--but what of that? Nothing's perfect.