Casanova premiered in Leeds last month and is the midst of its tour. The first full length ballet by Kenneth Tindall, former Premier Dancer for Northern Ballet, the production stays absolutely true to the narrative work for which the Company excels.
Northern Ballet is welcomed back to the New Theatre, Cardiff after a three-year absence. The excitement in the theatre was not only met, but completely exceeded in a ballet which expertly transported the audience through Casanova’s life. Spectacular dance, breathtaking music and opulent costume and scenery exceeded expectation. This Northern Ballet production is a must see, which left me spellbound.Whilst Casanova’s reputation may be perceived to go before him, it is detail which is unpicked from Ian Kelly’s biography which enables fullness of Casanova’s character to be explored. Casanova’s life may be simplified for the purpose of taking the story to stage, but a full breadth of characters are enabled in bringing the key elements of Casanova’s story and character to life. This enables the audience to engage on an emotional level with a character beyond a one-dimension cad.
There is chemistry between Kennett Tindall’s choreography and Kerry Muzzey’s composition which mesmerises. It is difficult to believe this is the first full length ballet for both.
The strength of movement is consistently complemented by the score. The story takes on added dimension through scene changes ensuring seamless transitions. From the lavish masquerade ball to the dark paths of Venice to Versailles. The colours and dimension of Christopher Oram’s design are spectacular.
Javier Torres in this principal role enables the added dimension, and complexity, of Giacomo Casanova to be absorbed. Whilst the initial seduction by the Savorgnan sisters enables us to understand the beginnings of Casanova’s eventual reputation. Torres enables the layers of character to be felt through the Tindall’s choreography.
The choreography builds throughout the two acts; entwined corps brings both muscular and sensual performances. Costume design adds to each character as the story transfers from Venice to Versailles. The sensual side of Casanova is not shied away from but understanding Casanova as a man of music and science is explored to create the man.
There is much to be applauded in the performances of Hannah Bateman, Abigail Prudames and Antoinette Brooks-Daw in the roles of M.M., Bellino and Henriette respectively. The need to ensure Casanova is met with women with character is key to overcoming the stereotype. In creating multi-faceted characters, Northern Ballet’s narrative work stays true.
The strength and dimension of characters is all-encompassing throughout the ballet. For me, it was in Antoinette Brooks-Daw’s Henriette, the beauty, strength and innocence which underpins the developing relationship with Casanova which stood out.To believe Casanova is taken to the brink of the abyss is created by the strength in the portrayals of characters who surround Torres. The eventual light and final scenes of the production bring with it a fitting finale to this all-compassing ballet.
Casanova is at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday 29th April, with tickets available on 029 2087 8889 or online.
From 3rd – 6th May Casanova is at The Lowry, Salford.
From 9th-13th May Casanova transfers to Saddler’s Wells, London.
Casanova is a production of layers of beauty, an exhilarating performance leaving all senses tingling.
Disclosure: I was invited to the production for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions contained are my own.