Northern Ballet's Casanova shows the Italian lothario in a different light

Northern Ballet's Casanova shows the Italian lothario in a different light

Credit: Guy Farrow

New ballet takes the sex out of Casanova's legacy (for the most part) and paints a more realistic painting of the man behind the myth

Growing up in Venice in the 18th century, Giacomo Casanova studied law, trained as a priest, worked as a writer and violinist, served time in prison and jumped from one maverick project to the next across Europe before his death aged 73. And yet today, he's associated with one thing only: sex.

'Casanova himself would be appalled at what he has been remembered for,' says choreographer Kenneth Tindall, whose new work for Northern Ballet aims to paint the Italian in a more three-dimensional light. 'He slept with 130 women, which works out at about four a year – and if you compare that to somebody like Peter Stringfellow who's slept with thousands of women, it isn't that much. And I think that fact has completely been lost when it comes to Casanova.'

Not that Tindall has disregarded Casanova's reputation for enjoying the company of women, far from it. Along with the many other fascinating aspects of the man's life, his affairs of the heart (and body) are depicted through a series of sensual pas de deux sprinkled throughout the ballet. But with such a full life to represent, how did Tindall decide what to include?

'It was really, really difficult,' he says. 'But I hunted down Ian Kelly, who wrote the 2008 biography, Casanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy and I started there. We cherry picked what we thought would represent him best, give an exciting theatrical experience, but most of all hopefully give the audience a different perspective of the man himself – whilst not forgetting that serial womaniser tag he has.'

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 23–Sat 25 Mar, 7.30pm (Sat mat, 2.30pm).

Northern Ballet: Casanova

An original scenario by Ian Kelly and Kenneth Tindall which seeks to unmask the legendary lothario. Presented by Northern Ballet with live music from Northern Ballet Sinfonia.