Add to that a more than serviceable score by Kerry Muzzey and truly stunning sets and costumes by Christopher Oram (the designer of Frozen currently in the West End) and you have a show that fills eye and heart in equal measure.
We first meet Giacomo Casanova in Venice as an insecure, though ambitious, trainee priest. Soon he is dragged into politics when a renegade priest, Father Balbi, surreptitiously gives him a forbidden book. Remember, this is the period when Inquisition and Enlightenment clash with often tragic results.
Caught in flagrante with the Savorgnan sisters, Casanova is expelled from the church, and from then his dizzying rise and fall is propelled by benefactors, such as Senator Bragadin and Madame de Pompadour, as well as by Casanova’s own wits and talent as a violinist.
Throughout he acquires a reputation as ‘the great seducer’ and the ballet has plenty of raunchy and athletic sex, but little love. Finally spurned by those he really wants to impress, namely a haughty and dismissive Voltaire, Casanova is left with nothing but his writing, in a glorious finale where loose book pages rain down on the stage as the figures from his past file before his eyes.
In principal soloist Joseph Taylor, tall, long-legged, supremely elegant and a tremendous partner, Northern Ballet has the perfect hero (or anti-hero); and just as well, because as Casanova Taylor is on stage for virtually the entirely of the ballet’s nearly two hours’ duration.
Taylor is a beautiful dancer, strong, with a powerful jump, able to infuse his character with a wide range of moods to suit the ups and downs of Casanova's life.
The entire cast deal superbly with Tindall’s urgent, expansive, vigorous choreography. Special plaudits to Javier Torres as a lascivious Senator Bragadin (we’ll miss this stalwart of the Northern Ballet when he retires at the end of the season), Hannah Bateman as an imperious Madame de Pompadour and Minju Kang and Saeka Shirai as Bellino and Henriette respectively, Casanova’s true love interests.
Christopher Oram’s sets are superlative. Based on three massive blocks of gilt columns, they are so versatile that with a little tweak and the help of a few props they suggest a baroque church, Senator Bragadin’s richly appointed apartments, a dingy gaming salon and in a veritable coup de theatre the hall of mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.
His costumes, too, point to the period, with the men’s frock coats and the women’s voluminous skirts, but then do their own thing in most interesting, eye-catching way.
The Northern Sinfonia Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Parkinson, gave a cogent account of Muzzey’s score.
|What||Northern Ballet, Casanova review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
10 May 22 – 14 May 22, 19:30 Thu & Sat mats 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 7 mins inc one interval
|Price||£15-£65 (+booking fee|
|Website||Click here to book|