Sunday, May 23, 2010

~Juliet Capulet's Friends

With the movie Letters to Juliet out I thought I'd share this article about some real things behind the scenes...

By Colleen Barry
VERONA, Italy — Hers was a literary, not literal, existence only. And her own love story was, let's just say, star-cross'd.

Nonetheless, thousands of lovelorn every year pour out their hearts and seek solace from Juliet, Shakespeare's heroine.

Their entreaties arrive by the dozens — handwritten missives, sometimes with drawings, or photographs, penned on handmade paper or sheets meant to look like ancient parchment. Some are addressed simply: Juliet, Verona, Italy.

Yet thanks to compassionate letter carriers, they find their way to an upstairs office overlooking the courtyard of the fabled home of Juliet Capulet, just opposite the balcony of Shakespearean fame.

And there, improbably, they are answered by 15 self-appointed secretaries to Juliet.

"Let's say by now we are pretty expert. After 15, 20 years we are able to manage this phenomenon," said Giovanna Tamassia, who has been writing replies for 16 years. "But it is also true that sometimes a particularly difficult letter arrives and then we speak among ourselves."

Soon, the secretaries will be looking for more help: They expect a deluge after the U.S. release May 14 of "Letters to Juliet," a new movie starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave that tells the story of one of those letters gone lost.

"When the film comes out: Help!" Tamassia said.

Movie echoes Redgrave’s own story
The movie stars Redgrave as a woman whose letter expressing regret at leaving her Italian love to return to Britain is found behind a loose brick at Juliet's Verona house, a famous tourist spot and romantic pilgrimage. Redgrave's character seeks out her Romeo, named Victor, with the help of a young tourist (Seyfried) who stumbles on the long-lost letter while helping the secretaries.

Image: Juliet's secretaries
Self-proclaimed secretaries of Shakespeare heroine Juliet, Giovanna Tamassia, left, Elena Marchi, center, and Giulio Tamassia pose on Juliet's balcony near their office in Verona, Italy.

Victor is played by Redgrave's real-life husband, Franco Nero, and the story of young love abandoned and then rediscovered after decades echoes their own: The pair met on the set of "Camelot" in 1967, had a son Carlo, and went their separate ways until finding each other again and marrying in 2006.