New ballet set to unmask Casanova

Northern Ballet will be bringing history’s most notorious lover to Norwich in April 2017 with its sensual new ballet Casanova which will run from April 4-8.

The internationally-acclaimed company’s visit to the city will be part of its World Première Tour of the new ballet, which is launched in its home town of Leeds on March 11. It has promised a sumptuous spectacle which will transport audiences back to 18th century Venice, revealing the story of the infamous Italian adventurer in a seductive masquerade of passion and politics.

Kenneth Tindall
Photo by Simon Lawson 

In Casanova, the fiercely intellectual Giacomo Casanova leads a controversial life consumed by his desires. He dabbles in careers as a scam artist, violinist, alchemist and church cleric. But with his penchant for gambling and women, his exploits lead him into a whirlwind of scandal and excess resulting in imprisonment and exile – a true story that is truly sensational.

Commissioned by artistic director David Nixon OBE, this will be the first full-length ballet by the award-winning choreographer Kenneth Tindall. Kenny previously danced many roles for the company in a performance career spanning 15 years and was recently nominated for Best Classical Choreography and the Emerging Artist Award at the 2015 National Dance Awards.

He said: “Casanova lived a life far richer and stranger than most fictions and the physicality, theatricality and energy of his exploits make him a perfect subject for the stage.”

Ian Kelly

He collaborated on the story for the new production with locally-based historical biographer, actor and dramatist Ian Kelly, co-writing much of the scenario for the ballet at Ian’s home in Eye on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

Ian’s book on Casanova was a Sunday Times Biography of the Year in 2008-9 and was painstakingly researched, drawing on Casanova’s own writings, including the 3,600 folio pages of his memoir, History of My Life, which he wrote in old age.

Ian has also written biographies of other notable 18th century figures figures such as the arbiter of men’s fashion Beau Brummell, the first celebrity chef Antonin Carême in Cooking for Kings and Samuel Foote in Mr Foote’s Other Leg (Winner, Theatre Book of the Year 2013), as well as a more modern autobiography on fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, which he co-wrote with Dame Vivienne in 2014.

He described Casanova as “one of the most exciting social historians of this era because he choose to write about everything”, from food and new sciences to religious mysticism. “He is a disreputable individual in some regards. But he is much more than the legendary lover,” he said. The ballet will, he believes, go some way to showing him as the fully-rounded human being he was.

Photo by Guy Farrow

The production is set to an original score by modern classical, film and television composer Kerry Muzzey. It will be played live by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia. Sets and costumes are designed by Tony and Olivier award-winning Christopher Oram, whose recent credits include Hughie for the Booth Theatre, New York and The Winter’s Tale for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre. Lighting is designed by Alastair West whose Northern Ballet credits include Giselle, I Got Rhythm, Jane Eyre and Kenneth Tindall’s Luminous Juncžture and The Architect.

Judy Foster, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “We are thrilled that our Norwich audiences will be among the first to see this sumptuous new ballet. It promises to be not only visually stunning, with opulent costumes and wigs and atmospheric scenery, but the new specially-composed score will also conjure up the seductive Venice of the 18th century. It will be an all-encompassing treat for all the senses. “

Northern Ballet will also present their children’s ballet Goldilocks & The Three Bears on Friday, April 7, with performances at 12 noon and 2pm.  The production offers the opportunity to introduce small children to ballet, music and theatre, and lasts approximately 40 minutes.

Casanova is here from 4 April, and tickets are available now.