Northern Ballet: Casanova Review | The Lowry | Manchester
Northern Ballet has isolated pieces of Casanova’s epic mythology to showcase an intimate look at the religious, gambling lothario’s life.
Northern Ballet’s production covers a lot of ground as the priest in training hurdles over obstacles, shifting from developing his musical skills as a penniless violinist to enthralling a financial benefactor and making a go of it as a writer. The minimalist sets move the action to the bedroom, the church and back into the bedroom for personal and exhaustive scenes that offer gorgeously elaborate performances. The show delivers a harmonious mix of contemporary and classic choreography alongside stirring autobiographical detail that offers a layered creation full of surprises.
Casanova, ballet edition presents a passionate production that crafts a humanising story around the curious man known mainly for his womanising in spite of his eventful career. Co-created with historical biographer Ian Kelly, the show builds on Casanova’s lavish beginnings, shining a spotlight on the aspiring priest as he attends a mass in honour of the new French Ambassador. Whilst there he is secretly handed a forbidden book by the church and despite being accompanied by his students, the Savorgnan sisters, he leaves the party hoping to familiarise himself with all three (double scandal).
The enticing tale of reputation and longing is further highlighted by Kenneth Tindall’s choreography that brings a seductive, dreamy and paired down staging. The immersive Lowry sets are accompanied by live orchestration performed by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, sumptuous costumes from Tony and Oliver award-winning designer Christopher Oram and moody misty lighting that draws you into Giacome Casanova’s intimate world. As Joseph Taylor (Casanova) plays through the steps and various phases in Casanova’s journey, the soothing sleek design and minimalist set allow audiences to join in the conga line of rumours that follow the multi-talented man from Venice to Paris.
Taylor is given the space to carry the tale of the eccentric within mesmerising scenes that entrap his solos in smoke and masquerade him in fanciful costumes. Highlighting Casanova as a conduit of fun and as a reckless creative, the man appears to follow an entirely separate set of rules to the people he encounters. The show's exuberance and the powerhouse ensemble cast offer a treasure trove of talent ruled by passion, humour and serious style. By the second act, the shine has not worn off Casanova, with Northern Ballet’s production bringing in a towering mirrored set to represent the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace.
Highlighting both his obstacles and the trappings of his talent and charisma, the production deftly blends dance, sumptuous costumes and sets to detail Casanova’s life as an aspiring writer, musician and trainee priest.
Overruled by passion, Casanova is an inspiring production and a reminder that life is what you make of it. It’s stunning ballet is an expression of lust, learning and acceptance.
Tickets are available via the Lowry link