(2) At Zeffirelli’s Villa: Rome, May 1967

REHEARSING AND RELAXING BEFORE START OF FILMING[1]

Extract from Zeffirelli – The Autobiography of Franco Zeffirelli. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1986 pp.226-227

“We had assembled for work on Romeo and Juliet at the end of May [1967], though not in the conventional way in rehearsal rooms. I had for sometime been dreaming of getting out of the centre of Rome, which increasingly had come to seem dirty, crowded and inconvenient. Of course, I’d had fun there as a young man enjoying big city life with friends of my own age, but now I wanted something more open, which I could share with my increasing herd of pets.

“I had discovered a small estate, really a sort of park, on the outskirts of the city not far from the ancient Appian Way. The owner had built a group of pleasant country-style homes, each far enough away from the other to appear isolated, in effect lost amongst the trees and gardens. It was ideal; near enough to the city for work, far enough for the sort of country existence I now wanted. I rented first one house and then later another larger home, where I still live today.

“That May I moved my entire company: not just Aunt Lide and Vige but also the principals of Romeo and Juliet. There we all were, during the hot summer, living as if in a cheerful, busy commune; Olivia and Leonard rehearsing on the lawn; Nino Rota writing the music in the salon; RobertStephens and Natasha Parry learning their lines or swimming in the pool – it was a dream world.”

Zeffirelli's villa
At Zeffirelli’s Villa with some of the young cast – May 1967

[1]Filming started at the end of June 1967 in the town of Tuscania