The 2014/15 season of the Polish National Ballet comes to a close with the premiere of a new ballet choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor to a libretto by Paweł Chynowski. The creators brand the ballet as a piece for everyone: a light, vivid swashbuckler. It is a free adaptation of the fragments of Giacomo Casanova’s journals depicting his stay in Warsaw and career at European courts. Self-styled as Chevalier de Seingalt, Casanova was the most notorious libertine and womaniser of the 18th century; a traveller, man of the world, courtier, recognised man of letters, and gambler. Now this vivid figure becomes the main character of Krzysztof Pastor’s new historical ballet, which was a challenge for a choreographer renowned for his contemporary creations. During a press conference the Polish National Ballet’s director admitted that the theatrical, traditional set design was a novelty to him and he found great joy in working to Mozart’s music.
The set design is a creation of Italy’s Oscar and Caesar winning scenographer Gianni Quaranta, known for such films as A Room with a View by James Ivory; Farinelli by Gérard Corbiau; or the mini-series Jesus from Nazareth by Franco Zeffirelli. Thanks to his prolific imagination and arduous study of the surviving iconography ? Canaletto’s paintings and Vogel’s drawings ? the audience goes 250 years back to the Warsaw of Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland (1764?95). To visualise the Operalnia, the royal opera house, Quaranta drew from the surviving interiors of the Vienna Opera, which was built during the Saxon rule. The ballet is also a chance to find yourself in the ballroom of Warsaw’s Blue Palace in Senatorska street and the hotel rooms of the commercial centre Marywil, build on a commission from queen Maria Kazimiera, or Marie Casimire Louise de La Grange d’Arquien, between 1692 and 1697.
Under king Stanisław August Poniatowski’s patronage Warsaw’s cultural life was thriving, the city being a meeting point for European artists and aristocrats. Casanova arrived hoping to get employment with the king. He moved among the upper social circles, befriending count August Moszyński, who was in charge of the court entertainment; witnessed the initial season of Poland’s first institutionalised theatre company at the Operalnia, romancing Italian dancers Caterina Gattai, Anna Binetti, and Teresa Casacci.
The ballet is set to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Jakub Chrenowicz, the author of the music concept and conductor of the performance, stressed that the creators’ idea was to make a reference to 18th century opera-ballets that blended both genres in one piece of art. To start off, they looked for a repertoire that had been played at Warsaw’s theatres and courts, not ruling out Polish music, yet to make the music concept coherent, they settled on Mozart. The audience is set for a surprise when they hear Mozart’s less known orchestra pieces and arias sung by the world’s top sopranos Joanna Woś and Katarzyna Trylnik. Mozart music dominated the epoch and accompanied the careers of ballet stars. The musical setting of Casanova? also makes a reference to Mozart’s dance pieces, such as Les Petits Riens, the march, and German Dances.
In the words of director Waldemar Dąbrowski, the ballet is the central event of the jubilee of 250 years of public theatre in Poland for the Teatr Wielki.
The ballet’s world premiere will take place on Thursday, 28 May, 7 pm. The next performances in this season are scheduled for 29-31 May and 2, 6-7 June.
Written by: Marianna Jasionowska.
Ballet in two acts
Libretto: Paweł Chynowski
Choreography and directing: Krzysztof Pastor
Conducting, music concept: Jakub Chrenowicz
Set and costume design: Gianni Quaranta
Lighting: Daniele Nannuzzi
Soloists and the company of the Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki ? Polish National Opera
Teatr Wielki ? Polish National Opera