Review: Casanova, Northern Ballet, Leeds Grand Theatre, Thursday 10 March 2022
THE petticoat exploits of Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798) have all but erased from public consciousness the most laudable facets of the Venetian-born adventurer and intellectual.
The Northern Ballet distills Casanova’s colorful life as a trainee priest, musician, diplomat, writer and socialite into a two-hour bio-ballet. However, the prospect of a career in the Church quickly evaporates when Casanova is caught “in the act” with Savorgnan’s dubious sisters, posing as respectable convent girls.
By all accounts, Casanova mingled with the great, the good and the less good: from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Madame de Pompadour and Senator Bragadin, a Venetian dignitary and socialite who fell in love with him.
Kenneth Tindall, in his first complete ballet, makes Casanova’s life such a natural subject. One of the many standout episodes of this epic dance-drama piece is Tindall’s fluid choreography of one of the most erotic scenes ever seen in a ballet. It’s between Joseph Taylor’s Casanova and Abigail Prudames’ ‘MM’; an aristocratic nun who seduces Casanova for the gratification of her voyeuristic lover, Cardinal de Bernis.
Opulent costumes and gilded screens by Christopher Oram illuminated by thin beams of light capture the claustrophobia, paranoia and decadence of 18th century Venice. Even the processional pomp of a medieval Gothic cathedral with shadow figures of the Inquisition barely visible through a veil of incense awaiting their prey, reeks of decadence and a whiff of dread.
Joseph Taylor’s Casanova radiates a magnetic presence and the entire company of forty dancers creates a series of mesmerizing cameos. Kerry Muzzey’s wonderfully cinematic musical score is brought to life by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Daniel Parkinson.
Casanova runs until Saturday March 19 at Leeds Grand. Do not miss.