Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, went along to see Northern Ballet’s Casanova when it premiered in Leeds this week. Ahead of the show’s visit to Norwich (4-8 April), he gave us his reaction:
Rather than a traditional overture, Northern Ballet’s Casanova opens with an ornate thurible wafting incense around a darkened stage to the sound of a single hollow bell toll… a wonderfully dramatic start to this new and first full-length ballet by Kenneth Tindell. This sets a scene of dark yet opulent mystery which situates the young Casanova in his early life as a trainee priest. This first foreboding scene kicks off a series of episodes in the life of Casanova over two acts (each less than an hour) and you are taken on a journey to see the different sides of the man himself – the intellectual, the artist, the romantic and, of course, the libertine.
Kenny Tindall’s choreography is rooted in ballet, but like Casanova himself, there is a libertinism throughout that has echoes of Matthew Bourne. The ensemble scenes are just glorious to watch and this is where you are totally transported into the feeling of a very grand ballet with extravagant costuming and wigs-galore. The smaller sections are similarly powerful and particularly moving are the absolutely stunning duets for Casanova with both Bellino and Henriette, the two women who dominate his story. Whilst Casanova’s reputation as a lover is present throughout the story, it does not dominate the choreography… the dance is showing us a man that is greater than the myth.
As the story unfolds and the choreography ebbs and flows, the epic score and the grandiose production (dominated by three enormous golden columns, stunningly lit throughout) provide a constant. This is Venice and as much as we are seeing a portrait of Casanova, we are being exposed to the life of the city too.
I think that this new ballet is a real marker in the sand for new approaches to ballet choreography and production – it’s bold and daring. It is fantastic to have had two brand new balletic productions come to Norwich so far this year and anyone that loved the drama and intensity of The Red Shoes should absolutely give Casanova a try.
Casanova is being danced here from 4-8 April, and tickets are available now.