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Sensuous splendour of a colourful life; REVIEW: Northern Ballet: Casanova, New Theatre, Cardiff ?????.....

NOWADAYS Giacomo Casanova's name is synonymous with womanising. In reality, the Italian adventurer was a far more intriguing figure - and this week he is the subject of a world premiere from the Northern Ballet.

Since retiring as Northern Ballet's premier dancer in 2015, Kenneth Tindall has choreographed his first full work in Casanova.

Tindall shows us that Casanova was more than a sex addict; he was an amateur physician, gambler, violinist, trainee cleric and writer, whose autobiography is noted for being a fascinating account of 18th-century life.

You couldn't fit his whole life into a two-hour ballet. Tindall's Casanova is an episodic storyline moving between Venice and Paris. Seduction, voyeurism, masquerade balls, the Inquisition, cross-dressing castratos and abusive husbands are just a few of the events and characters from Casanova's life that are dramatised in this ballet.

Tindall's choreography is dramatic, grown-up, sexy and completely captivating, combining orgiastic spectacle and striking tableaux. The final scenes where the whole company is dancing onstage is an arresting dramatic ending and a scene of pure art in motion.

In contrast is the mesmerising solo work, as dancer Javier Torres conveys Casanova's introspective side, such as the emotional trauma of his encounter with the Inquisition.

Christopher Oram's set and costume design and Alastair West's lighting beautifully complement each other. Oram's set and props are gilded baroque, effectively suggesting Venice and Paris in the 1700s, while sufficiently simple to leave room for the dancers. Meanwhile, West's moody lighting heightens the intensity of the drama.

Kerry Muzzey's score provides much of the production's magic, rising and falling with Casanova's fortunes and emotions, the music is dramatic, sumptuous, vivid and detailed.

I found myself enjoying listening to such a talented orchestra just as much as I enjoyed watching the action on stage - Casanova is an artistic joy for both the eyes and ears.

Chris Williams

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 27, 2017
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