WHAT a start to Northern Ballet’s year of three new ballets: Casanova in the spring; The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas from late-May and The Little Mermaid for the autumn.
Casanova has opened in a blaze of glory on home boards in Leeds, and thankfully it’s not all over for Casanova in Yorkshire: Sheffield awaits, and your fingers really should be busy tapping in booking numbers as soon as this sentence ends.
...Welcome back, and be sure to set off to the Steel City in good time because you would not forgive yourself for missing the breathtaking opening on Christopher Oram’s gilded design of a grand 18th century Venetian cathedral, as the wafted whiff of incense sets off the first of the senses to be tantalised by Kenneth Tindall’s seriously sensual production.
Tindall, who has risen so gracefully from principal dancer to choreographer, has worked in tandem with Casanova biographer Ian Kelly on the original scenario, deciding what to do with “history’s most notorious lover”: what to put in, what to leave out, from an Italian adventurer’s life so full to the brim. They settle on sex, religion, politics, music, alchemy, scams and gambling on a carousel of desire that leads to pleasure, pain, imprisonment and exile.
The publicity talks of a “true story so sensational you won’t believe it’s real”, but actually you will. For all the sensory overload, Tindall’s production is full of intelligence too: it stirs loin, heart and mind alike, all represented in the thrilling dancing of Giuliano Contadini’s Casanova, whose span of physicality stretches from prowling to wounded. Around him, the company en masse is in magnificent form too.
Oram’s costumes, period-precise but cut to a modern twist, and Kerry Muzzey’s sublime music enrich still more an instant Northern Ballet classic. What a life, what a show!
Casanova, Northern Ballet, Leeds Grand Theatre, tonight at 7.30pm, tomorrow at 2.30pm and 7.30pm; Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, March 28 to April 1, 7.45pm plus 2pm, Thursday and 3pm, Saturday matinees. Box office: Leeds, 0844 848 2700 or leedsgrandtheatre.com; Sheffield, 0114 249 6000 or at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk