In honor of World Music Day, we are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with composer, Kerry Muzzey. His enchanting score for our upcoming production, Kenneth Tindall’s Casanova, adds a captivating dimension to the ballet that is set to make its U.S. Premiere. What’s more, this extraordinary performance will be accompanied by the majestic live music of the renowned Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Join us as we delve into the creative genius behind the mesmerizing score that brings Casanova to life on stage.
- How did you approach composing the music for Casanova to capture the essence of this legendary figure and his captivating story?
This is a great question because before any music was written, we had to come up with a treatment: a musical style, how Kenneth Tindall wanted the music to function, and what role he wanted it to play. What is our modern take on the sound of 18th – Century Venice and Paris? When we first talked about Casanova, Kenny said that what he really wanted was a film score that he could choreograph: he wanted me to underscore the city of Venice in the 1700s. He referenced my album “The Architect” (https://bit.ly/CasArch) as being a good example of the modern classical style that he imagined for the show, with pieces like “The Secret History” and “The Architect” that would steep the audience in a mood. His starting point was that this should be pure theatre: from the minute the curtain went up, the music had to immerse the audience in Casanova’s world, which is dark, misty, mysterious Venice in Act One, and Paris and Versailles in Act Two. The score acts as an underscore to his life’s moments. So much of the man was defined by key relationships in his life, and the music had to drive home his emotional connections with those people. We both wanted music that would sweep the audience away and hopefully carry them all the way to the end where they’d be swept to their feet in applause without even thinking about it!
- Could you share with us some insights into the musical motifs or themes you incorporated into the score to evoke the different moods and emotions of Casanova’s journey?
There are a couple of key themes in the ballet, one of them being what we call the Red Book Theme, which we first use when Casanova is introduced to the Kabbalah by a rogue priest. It’s the theme that pushes him in his pursuits of knowledge, like mathematics and language. We also have a kind of seduction theme that is first introduced when Casanova is seduced by MM, the White Nun – and that later evolves and goes to a more beautiful and uplifting place when he falls in love with Bellino – but then realizes that he must let her go. That’s the showstopper of a pas de deux that always leaves the audience spellbound, and it’s my favorite piece in the entire score. Casanova knows that this is his one true love, but also knows that she is destined for greater things – and he knows that being with him would hold Bellino back. So, he lets her go. It’s a tragically beautiful part of his story and that let me really indulge in writing a grand, romantic, sweeping pas de deux. The two duets in Act Two – with Bellino and with Henriette – are just total emotional gut punches, and I think that with the Orlando Philharmonic playing the score, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
- Collaboration between composer and choreographer is key to creating a cohesive and captivating ballet experience. Can you tell us about your collaborative process with the choreographer and how the music and choreography intertwine in Casanova?
We had so much fun making this show. I live in Los Angeles and Kenny is based in Leeds and London, so we did a weekly meeting over Skype where we’d talk about what the next scene was and what he wanted to achieve as we advanced the story. I’d do orchestral mockup recordings of each cue and send them to him as an mp3 file for approval, and bit by bit we built the ballet, scene by scene. Kenny was like a cheerleader, and he was so excited and upbeat about the process of creating this show, and that’s exactly the kind of collaborative experience you want to have. I’ve never had so much fun doing so much work! It was incredibly challenging but in all the best ways. It made me better at what I do.
- The presence of a live orchestra adds an extra layer of magic to the ballet experience. How does having a live orchestra enhance the emotional impact of the music and contribute to the overall atmosphere of the performance?
Oh, you just can’t beat it. A recording can’t hold a candle to the experience of a live orchestra. I usually work in TV and film, so my work is always in creating a recording – it’s a long process. But working in live theatre, with a live orchestra, is overwhelming in the most amazing way. There’s an immediacy to it: all those musicians working together to create this atmosphere and this experience, each bringing their own musicality and their own life stories to their performance. I think a live orchestra immerses the audience in a way that a recording just can’t. We’ve all been in a theatre where there’s a palpable excitement and energy in the audience, and the orchestra is a huge part of that. And as a composer, there’s nothing in the world like hearing your work performed by a live ensemble. I can’t wait to hear the Orlando Philharmonic play it.
As we eagerly anticipate the enchanting performance of Casanova this May, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to the composer for providing us with a glimpse into the artistic world of this remarkable production. The harmonious marriage of music and dance, enriched by the live music from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, promises to make this World Music Day, as well as our production, an extraordinary experience for all. Don’t miss your chance to be captivated by the symphony of emotions in Casanova, where the melodies of the composer’s score intertwine with the grace and passion of Orlando Ballet’s dancers.
Be sure to mark your calendars and join us for the U.S. Premiere of Casanova at The Dr. Phillips Center, Steinmetz Hall May 16-19, 2024. Tickets go on sale to the public this Friday, June 23rd.