Giacomo Casanova

I am usually at home but one year I was in Warsaw, another I was on an aeroplane, so Robert had to do it for me, once I was in France and one year I forgot.

This year I am sitting at the kitchen table. Tickets for the Proms went on sale two minutes ago and I’m 1,649th in the queue to buy mine. I’m lucky since the waiting room holds more than 12,000. This year I’m going to hear some chamber music at lunchtime in Cadogan Hall. All my other picks are at the Albert Hall: Fidelio, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony and Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. When I went to the Proms in the 20th century I used to buy tickets on the day and there was availability for everything except the Last Night. Now the whole season sells out on the morning booking opens. Rather encouraging that there is an audience for something that could be seen as old-fashioned.

It only took half an hour to get to the front of the queue, the quickest ever.

Last night Richard Mawbey took me to Casanova at Sadler’s Wells. It is a new Northern Ballet work choreographed by Kenneth Tindall with music by Kerry Muzzey played by Northern Ballet Sinfonia. Richard did the wigs and make-up. It was everything you might hope for but don’t always get at the ballet. Costumes, sets, lighting and especially the music can be described in one word: sumptuous. It was also a serious attempt to tell Casanova’s rather extraordinary life story. He lived in the 18th century planning to be a priest until he is seduced by two rorty sisters. He is a violinist, falls foul of the Inquisition, has an affair with a nun, spies in Holland for Madame de Pompadour, tries to commit suicide in London, travels widely in Europe carrying out secret diplomatic missions for Venice, becomes a theatre impresario in Venice, is declared bankrupt, becomes a librarian in Bohemia, collaborates on the libretto for Mozart’s Don Giovanni and meets Voltaire and Goethe.

All of this and more is depicted in the ballet. In one scene he explains his theory of cubic geometry to Voltaire – challenging to do that through the medium of dance. It’s easy to lose the plot but I enjoyed the visual spectacle and some wonderful dancing. Afterwards Richard took us to Soho House. It has moved since I last went, after a charity film premiere ages ago, and is now in a Georgian town house. We didn’t leave until after midnight but the joint was still jumping – a contrast to my club in St James’s.

3 thoughts on “Casanova”

  1. Always a joy to reciprocate, particularly when it’s our great friend and favourite Blogger. Isn’t it rewarding to hear how popular the Proms are and know that a completely new Ballet can draw sell out audiences for Northern Ballet at Sadler’s Wells and around the country. It’s been an amazing experience for me personally as I’ve never designed for one before!! Happy to report it won’t be the last…look out for The Little Mermaid Autumn 2017!!

    1. From The Sunday Times review:

      “Oram’s many costumes are gorgeous; the wigs are a triumph.”

      1. I was thrilled with this’s probably a first as the critics only EVER mention a wig if it’s BAD !!!!

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