Resources on poetry by the poets themselves

Casanova

Written for the theatre company TOLD BY AN IDIOT, and on tour Sep-Dec 2007

CASANOVA SITS IN HER PRISON CELL IN VENICE.

CASANOVA IS PLAYING AN AIR VIOLIN.

CASANOVA:

It was always her most heartfelt and considered opinion, that when a girl set herself so determinedly to do something- and thought of nothing else but her design- she must, must, must succeed- despite all the difficulties in her path.

CASANOVA REPEATS THIS SENTENCE IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES- ITALIAN, FRENCH, SPANISH, LATIN, HEBREW etc.

After all, she was Casanova. And who was Casanova? She was Venezia’s child- among other things, an actor, acrobat, gourmet, gambler, poet, philosopher, doctor of law, of letters, linguistics, a girl with the gift of the gab, a girl with a glint in her eye, a girl with a hidden tool...

CASANOVA PRODUCES A SECRET IRON TOOL AND BEGINS TO CHIP AWAY AT THE PRISON WALL AS SHE SPEAKS:

... a composer, chemist, novelist, chef, Christian, Muslim, atheist, Catholic, carnivore, vegan, Capricorn, Libran, librettist, violinist, comedian, diplomat, magician, husband, wife, daughter, nephew, orphan, judge, painter of portraits, chiseller of sculptures, a journalist, juggler, freemason, alchemist, scientist, soldier, spy, politician, florist, people’s princess and- after a year and a day like a pearl in a shell in the tomb of this stinking lead-lined cell ... at last, at last, at last... a gondolier on the Grand Canal!

CASANOVA STEPS ON TO A GONDOLA AND DRIFTS ALONG THE GRAND CANAL SINGING A BARCAROLLE:

She had never before seen her own city so perfect! The light and the water and stone in such harmony! Bella! What it was to be free! To live again in the moment! Carpe Diem! As Casanova drifted along the Grand Canal in her black gondola, she passed the architecture of her very own soul; the buildings dealing their bright memories, one after one after one, like a winning poker hand. There was the Accademia where the artist Casanova’s timeless paintings hung from the walls; where the sculptor Casanova’s marble statues paused forever in their achingly human gestures. There was the little iron bridge to the Jewish Ghetto where the Rabbi Casanova had worked and hungered and worried and prayed. V’yit hadar v’yiit aleh v’yit halal sh’mei d’kud’sha. There was the glittering dome of the Basilica where holy, holy, holy Casanova had led a concelebrate Mass... in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. And there- there!- was the pretty pink Palazzo where Casanova herself, in the flesh, believe it, had once dined with the beautiful, young, radiant virgin, Signorina Anybody.

Casanova could taste and smell that magnificent meal even now. The Cozze Ripiene, mussels in their shells, stuffed with breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and pecorino. Then the Pasta e Fagioli alla Venta- a thick soup which had been simmered for two hours- followed by Tagliatelle al Limone e Erbe Odorose. Signorina Anybody had poured the finest of wines into Casanova’s red and gold glass goblet: Verdicchio die Castelli di Jesi; Brunello di Montalcino. Then the dear Signorina had served Branzino alla Rivierasca coi Carciofi- sea bass with artichokes- following that with Coppa di Testa- pig’s head brawn- and Finocchi al Latte, fennel braised in milk. Basta? Enough? Not a bit of it! Not at all! Casanova’s appetite was endless. It was time now for vino Santo Occhio di Pernice, a sweet, soft, velvety, rose wine, to accompany the Baci di Dama, lady’s kisses, biscuits in the shape of a pouting, Signorina’s lips... grazzi, grazzi, Signorina... time for Sorbetto di Limone al Basilico and Gelato di Crema. Indeed, Casanova was just about to plunge her knife into the noblest cheeseboard in all Venice, when the darling Signorina’s Mama had entered the room, unannounced, and Casanova had to jump- for a reason she cannot now for the life of anyone who has paid their taxes recall- from the balcony into the Grand Canal, landing safely- by the grace of Jesus, Allah be praised- in an empty gondola. Phew! The rest is history. But, this particular night, as the fugitive Casanova slid down the Grand Canal, there loomed the imposing facade of the Casino di Venezia. The Casino! di Venezia! Casanova left her gondola with the boy, ascended the marble staircase, and then she sat down to the hushed, tense sacrament of Roulette.

CROUPIER:

“Faites votre jeu,” announced the inscrutable Croupier. Casanova looked in her money pouch. She had one hundred lira in the world. So, of course, she changed her lira into gambling chips, pronto, and lumped the lot on red. The Croupier spun the wheel and tossed in the little ball; round and round went wheel and ball till they slowed, slowed, slowed, and finally stopped. Red 7. Sept. “Faites votre jeu.” Casanova placed all of her two hundred lira on black. The Croupier spun the wheel. Black 17. Dix-sept. “”Faites votre jeu.” Casanova put four hundred lira on Odd. The Croupier spun the wheel. Vingt-trois. Casanova put eight hundred lira on Even. The Croupier spun the wheel. Dix. Casanova placed one thousand six hundred lira on High. The ball stammered and stuttered over the numbers. Trente-cinq. Casanova bet three thousand two hundred lira on Low. The ball gibbered and muttered away. Quatre. By now, a small crowd was watching the play. Casanova gambled six thousand four hundred lira on Numero 13. The Croupier spun the wheel. Treize. “Faites votre jeu.” Casanova staked one hundred and fifteen thousand, two hundred lira on Zero. The Croupier spun the wheel. Zero. “Faites votre jeu.” But Casanova, the luckiest, richest, player in the Casino, naturally, believe it, cashed in her chips then stood and strolled from the table. The small crowd murmured admiringly. Il Casino di Venezia mai aveva visto un cliente cosi fortunato! Casanova was indeed fortunate, for no sooner had she left than a Detective appeared in the Casino, asking tough questions about the prisoner who had escaped.

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

News of Casanova’s daring escape spread throughout Europe and by the time Casanova reached Paris, everyone who was anyone was desperate to meet her. Monsieur Everyman, the oldest and richest and randiest gentleman in all Paris, gave a Reception in Casanova’s honour. The great and the good of the French capital lined up to kiss Casanova’s hand and to get a good butcher’s at her.

HOMME:

They were all totally captivated by Casanova’s face, physique, hair, clothes, legs, shoes, hands, rings, charm, personality, wit, sensitivity, discretion, solicitousness, intelligence, vocabulary, compassion, general knowledge...

FEMME:

....bravery, bravado, speaking voice, singing voice, laugh, smile, teeth, smell, strength, jokes, talent, imagination, modesty, mots justes, decolletage, sang froid, joie de vivre, bonhomie, panache, savoir faire, je ne sais quoi and all the rest of it...

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

It was clearly not safe for the fugitive Casanova to have nowhere to live. There was sure to be a Detective on her trail at this very moment! Monsieur Everyman insisted that breathtakingly beautiful buxom Casanova move in with him at once, tout de suite!

CASANOVA:

Casanova, not being daft, agreed with dear old Monsieur Everyman.

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

Monsieur Everyman would see to it that Casanova’s purse was always full of silver and gold, that Casanova’s clothes were of the softest satins and sexiest silks, that Casanova dined on foie gras parfait, escargots a la bourguignonne, cotes de veau au Calvados...

CASANOVA:

... and see to it that Casanova drank only vintage champagne...mais, oui, cherie...and in return Casanova promised to turn Monsieur, who was nearly eighty, or easily ninety, or practically a hundred, into a beautiful, glamorous, energetic, young... woman! Un jeune femme! Yes! Monsieur would be re-generated through Casanova’s spectacular magic arts. Certainly he would! Anything was possible with Casanova. Tout etait possible! Les vieux pouvaient devenir jeunes! Les hommes pouvaient devenir les femmes! La fiction pouvait devenir realite! Old young! Men women! Fiction fact!

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

And so, each night, Monsieur rang the Servant’s Bell and ordered the Kitchen Boy to place a clean linen napkin around remarkable Casanova’s neck and to serve her the best food and wine in Paris. Tu as bien compris, Garcon de Cuisine? Seuls les mets et les vins les plus fins de Paris doivent effleurer les levres de Casanova!

KITCHEN BOY:

The Kitchen Boy was to wash each of charismatic Casanova’s talented, magic fingers in a silver fingerbowl and to wipe sweet Casanova’s truthful red lips with the napkin. Then he was to trim and to light beloved Casanova’s cigar and to pour unique Casanova’s rare old armagnac. Was there anything else intrepid Casanova might need? A back-rub, perhaps? Un petit foot massage, peut-etre? Some cologne on the temples and wrists, oui? Because, of course, believe it, there was nothing the smitten Kitchen Boy would not do for gorgeous Casanova.

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

As for Monsieur Everyman, he, too, believed only in extraordinary Casanova and would wait hopefully each night outside Casanova’s bedroom. The next morning, Monsieur would peer hopefully in his looking-glass, wishing to see not a stooped and decrepit old man but a gorgeous young woman. Pah! Still old, old, old! And without his powdered wig he was totally bald. He had best give more gold and silver to dear, desirable Casanova and keep faith with her magic powers.

KITCHEN BOY:

And every day, the Kitchen Boy knelt before Casanova and polished her boots till they twinkled like hilarity. No-one had paid any attention to the Kitchen Boy before- but since Casanova had arrived, the Kitchen Boy felt special.

CASANOVA:

Casanova wanted to know everything about the Kitchen Boy, for there was no-one who breathed whom Casanova did not find fascinating. And so, when Casanova looked at him...

KITCHEN BOY:

...the Kitchen Boy DID feel fascinating!

CASANOVA:

Casanova wanted to hear all about the Kitchen Boy’s hopes and dreams, for there was no-one who talked whom Casanova did not find unique. And so, when Casanova listened to him...

KITCHEN BOY:

...the Kitchen Boy DID feel unique!

CASANOVA:

Casanova wanted to tell the Kitchen Boy all about Casanova, for there was no-one alive whom Casanova did not find to be obsessed with Casanova. And so, when Casanova talked to him...

KITCHEN BOY:

... the Kitchen Boy DID feel obsessed! The Kitchen Boy learned all about brave Casanova’s daredevil escape from the prison underneath the Doge’s Palace in Venice and how the Kitchen Boy must warn darling Casanova if any stranger came snooping about. There was almost certainly a Detective looking for dear Casanova and they must all be on their guard.

CASANOVA:

In the meantime, Casanova was going to make Monsieur Everyman the happiest old codger in all Paris by using magic to re-generate him into a young woman!
KITCHEN BOY:

En utilisant la magie pour la transformer en jeune femme? Mon Dieu! C’etait un miracle!

CASANOVA:

Indeed it was miraculous! And Casanova was going to make the Kitchen Boy the happiest youth in all Paris also- because Casanova knew the secret little desires of the Kitchen Boy’s heart! Oh yes she did! The whole household would be transformed and re-generated by the alchemy of Casanova.

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN:

So Monsieur Everyman poured and poured his silver and gold into the bottomless pockets and purse of enchanting Casanova and Monsieur truly believed that when he next opened his weak old eyes he would be transformed into a voluptuous young woman...

KITCHEN BOY:

And the Kitchen Boy, too, closed his eyes and waited to be made the happiest garcon in Paris, for magical Casanova knew the hidden desire of his heart...

CASANOVA:

And shrewd Casanova, who happened to glance out of the window, saw the unmistakable shadow of a Detective from Venice approaching the front door. Il n’y avait pas une seconde a perdre! Non c’era un secondo da perdere! There was not a moment to lose! Casanova leapt from the window and fled through the streets of Paris.

MONSIEUR EVERYMAN/ KITCHEN BOY:

The thunderous banging at the front door caused Monsieur Everyman and the Kitchen Boy to open their eyes and when they saw that darling Casanova was gone for good, they wept and wept and wept enough tears between them to fill the English Channel.

CASANOVA:

Casanova cursed the Detective as she ducked, dived, double-backed, skulked, bobbed and weaved her furtive way towards the River Seine.
What ill luck! A fugitive yet again! Still, at least her pockets and purse were full of silver and gold. She could hear a big ship moaning restlessly down on the misty River, like a whale pining for its mate, like Paris pining for Londres. Down at the quayside, a silver coin pressed into the clean palm of one bright-eyed sailor soon got her on board the ship- which was departing within the hour for England- and a gold coin slipped into the sweaty hand of the sleazy purser swiftly saw Casanova comfortably ensconsed in one of the best cabins, port-side. More coins, deftly deployed, conjured up bread, cheese, pickles, a flask of red wine, un petit calvados, a clean nightshirt, extra pillows for the bunk, plenty of hot water, soap, towels, and a copy each of the Bible and the Koran. Casanova scoffed, supped, sniffed, stripped, soaped, sponged, shirt-shimmied, skimmed, scoffed again, and, as she shut her eyes on the pillow, Casanova dreamed that the most handsome of the sailors slid like a shadow into her cabin and tucked her lovingly in with a kiss and a kiss and a kiss. The ship sailed on into the night, stalked by the lovesick moon.

When Casanova awoke, it was morning. She pulled on her boots and clothes and went out on deck in search of breakfast. She spied a pleasant looking citizen sitting alone at a table where le petit dejeuner had been provided, so she pulled up a chair, bid him good morning and accepted his civil invitation to help herself to coffee and croissantes.

VOLTAIRE:

The gentleman introduced himself as the great writer Voltaire- and explained that his writing was to consist of a vast amount of work in almost every literary form, including 56 plays, dialogues, historical writing, stories and novels, poetry and epic poems, essays, scientific and learned papers, pamphlets, book reviews and more than 20,000 letters.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, who was by now devouring pain au chocolat and pouring another cup of coffee for them both, told Voltaire that this would mirror her own- Casanova’s- writing career exactly. It was amazing! Everything was for the best in this best of all possible worlds, mais oui?

VOLTAIRE:

Voltaire couldn’t agree more and found his new companion distinctly stimulating. What, for example, where Casanova’s views on God?

CASANOVA:

Casanova thought that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

VOLTAIRE:

Voltaire wondered what were Casanova’s views on politics?

CASANOVA:

Casanova thought it was dangerous to be right when the government was wrong.

VOLTAIRE:

Voltaire was well impressed by all this and wondered what were Casanova’s views on freedom of speech?

CASANOVA:

Casanova told Voltaire that she might not agree with what he had to say, but she would defend to the death his right to say it.

VOLTAIRE:

By now, Voltaire was so thrilled by the intellect of his friend, that he had slipped out his notebook from his pocket and was practically taking dictation. Never had Voltaire heard the like! He begged Casanova to continue talking and snapped his fingers to send for more coffee and cognac.

CASANOVA:

And so Casanova explained that it was difficult to free fools from the chains they revered. That is was better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one. It was forbidden to kill, therefore all murderers were punished unless they killed in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. It was lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind. No snowflake in an avalanche ever felt responsible. The best way to be boring, said Casanova, was to leave nothing out. The husband who decided to surprise his wife was often very much surprised himself. As Casanova talked on, sudden seagulls began to laugh hysterically overhead, and piss themselves, which meant, of course, that they were nearing the United Kingdom.

VOLTAIRE:

Voltaire continued to scribble, as inspirational Casanova sipped sweetly at her cognac. Those who could make you believe absurdities could make you commit atrocities. The superfluous was a very necessary thing. What a heavy burden was a name that had become too famous. When it was a question of money, everyone was of the same religion. We never lived; we were always in the expectation of living. All the reasonings of men were not worth one sentiment of women. Anything that was too stupid to be said was sung. The ship’s horn sounded morosely, for it had reached the British shore. As Voltaire finished writing, he looked up, but Casanova, who had seen, to her total horror, the unmistakable shadow of the Detective from Venice stalking the deck, had jumped ship and was gone.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, once she had made sure that the Detective from Venice- Bastardo!- had been given the slip, found that she was standing on a bridge over a river in the middle of a bustling city. But when she asked a bonnie lassie who was passing by if this city was London and was that river the Thames, she was astonished to be told that it was not.

GLASGOW:

The bonnie lassie replied that this city was Glasgow, so it was, and that river was the Clyde, so it was, and no place for Sassenachs. But- no bother, no bother- Casanova was welcome to accompany the bonnie lassie, who was just on her way to purchase a fish supper. The bonnie lassie’s name was Spirit of Glasgow, right enough. Before long, Casanova found herself stumping up for two fish suppers, with lashings of salt and vinegar, and a side order of white pudding... and the next thing, the bonnie lassie was giggling away and feeding Casanova teasingly with a few wee pomme frites. Naturally, believe it, once they had finished eating, the bonnie lassie wanted Casanova to bide with her forever and a day. Never in all her puff had the bonnie lassie encountered such a perfect, polite, perfumed, posh, pretty pal like Casanova.

CASANOVA:

But Casanova, with all the considerable charm and tact at her disposal, explained to the bonnie lassie that she must at all costs be on her way at once to London. Her heart was set on it.

GLASGOW:

Och well, in exchange for a gold coin from France and a good, long French kiss, the bonnie lassie agreed to put Casanova on the right road for London. And so she did, with a fond, fond, fond Cheerio!

CASANOVA:

Casanova walked and walked and walked until she stood once more on a bridge over a river in the middle of a busy city. But when she asked a fit lass who was passing by if this city was London and was that river the Thames, she was amazed to be told that it was not.

LEEDS:

The fit lass replied that this city was Leeds, right, and that river was the Aire, right, and no place for Cockneys. But- no problem, no problem-Casanova was welcome to accompany the fit lass, who happened to be on her way for a curry. The fit lass’s name was Spirit of Leeds. Next thing, Casanova found herself paying for two chicken dopiazas with tarka dahl, pilau rice, garlic naan, cucumber raita, pickles, chutneys, and spicey poppadoms... and soon enough the fit lass was teasingly feeding Casanova with morsels of curry-dunked naan. Of course, once they had finished eating, the fit lass wanted Casanova to stop with her forever and ever and all the rest of it. The lass swore by the Town Hall Clock that never, never, never had she encountered such a fascinating, fun, feisty, foxy, funky, friend like Casanova.

CASANOVA:

But Casanova, with all the huge charisma and diplomacy at her disposal, made it clear to the fit lass that she must be on her way to London. Her destiny depended upon it.

LEEDS:

And so, with fair and frank exchange of a fistful of francs and a faceful of frog snogs, the fit lass set Casanova on the right road to London with
a fond, fond, fond Farewell!

CASANOVA:

Casanova walked and walked and walked until she stood yet again on a bridge over a river in the middle of a teeming city. But when she asked a gorgeous girl who was passing by if this city was London and
was that river the Thames, she was astounded to be told that it was not.
LIVERPOOL:

The gorgeous girl replied that this city was Liverpool, yes, and that river was the Mersey, yes, and no place for soft Southerners. But- no worries, no worries- Casanova was more than welcome to accompany the gorgeous girl who was just popping out for a Chinese. The gorgeous girl’s name was Spirit of Liverpool. And so Casanova found herself in Chinatown picking up the tab for egg fried rice, king prawn chow mein, char siu and roast Cantonese duck... and it wasn’t long before the gorgeous girl was provocatively sucking the other end of one of Casanova’s noodles. No question, once they’d finished eating, but that the gorgeous girl wanted Casanova to stay with her forever and ever and ever. The gorgeous girl had never loved the bones of anyone so much as she loved the bones of Casanova.

CASANOVA:

But Casanova, with all the great kindness and sensitivity at her disposal, told the gorgeous girl that she had to walk on, walk on, with hope in her heart, for London. Her mind was made up.

LIVERPOOL:

That was that then. But once she’d been given one gold coin and one million kisses, the gorgeous girl showed Casanova the road to London with a fond, fond, fond Tara!

CASANOVA:

Casanova walked and walked and walked until she stood finally on a bridge over a great river in the middle of a thriving, jostling city. And when she asked a beautiful young man who was passing by what was the name of this city and which river was that, he laughed at her in disbelief.

LONDON:

The beautiful young man told Casanova that this was London, the capital of England, one of the greatest cities in the world, and that the river was the magnificent River Thames. He explained to Casanova that he was on his way to dine with his father at an excellent chop-house nearby and that Casanova was more than welcome to join them.

CASANOVA:

And so Casanova, who had never, never, never seen a more perfect young man in her life...never, never, never seen such gentle eyes, such white teeth, such glossy hair, such kissable lips... soon found herself sitting down at a table in the most romantic little restaurant imaginable with the handsome young man and his father.

LONDON:

The handsome young man, whose name was London, ordered potted shrimps, beef consomme, lamb chops with minted new potatoes, peas and shallotts, sherry trifle and stilton, all to be washed down with hock, rose, claret, riesling and port.

FATHER:

His father ordered smoked salmon, mulligatawny, calves liver with mashed potatoes and spinach, spotted dick and custard and sage derby, all to be washed down with champagne, beaujolais, rioja, gewurztraminer and sherry.

LONDON:

And Casanova, who was by now visibly swooning over the handsome young man, ate very little but generously settled the bill.

FATHER:

For which both father and son were effusively grateful and insisted that Casanova stay in their house that very night as their guest. And now began a dark time for poor Casanova, for the father and his handsome son were a pair of unscrupulous scoundrels who knew a soft touch when they saw one all right.

LONDON:

Casanova was smitten, besotted, head-over-heels in love with the handsome young man and there was nothing she would not do to please him.

FATHER:

The sly father told the heartless son to treat Casanova mean and keep her keen.

CASANOVA:

Casanova paid for all their meals in the swankiest London restaurants. She saw to it that their cellar was filled with the best wines in Europe. The handsome young man was measured for the most elegant clothes in the capital. Casanova bought him a horse. Casanova paid off the father’s creditors and the son’s gambling debts. And in return, all she wanted was for the young man to love her forever.

LONDON:

But the young man did not love Casanova and he would never love Casanova. She should be so lucky.

FATHER:

Treat her mean, that was their motto, feed her on scraps of affection...

LONDON:

A kiss here...

FATHER:

...a bit of slap and tickle there...

LONDON:

Have her begging for it...

FATHER:

... let her do all the bloody running...

LONDON:

...because there were plenty more were she came from...

CASANOVA:

...until her poor, passionate heart ached for real love, for kindness, respect, affection...

LONDON:

... and when the foolish, lovesick Casanova had finally run out of money...

FATHER:

....they kicked her out on the streets, for the silly cow...

LONDON:

...the stupid mare...

FATHER:

...the daft trollop was no more use to them now.

CASANOVA:

Casanova wandered the dark streets of London in total despair. Her heart was broken and lay like a stone in her breast. The dome of St Paul’s stared down impassively as she walked by the glittering river. She had not a penny to her name. She was homeless. The true love of her life had only been using her! Worse...worst of all... Casanova was pregnant! Casanova realised that she was standing on the bridge where she had first met the handsome young man those long nine months ago. It was quiet now. The Londoners were all asleep in their beds. The handsome young man would be sleeping, too, in the bed Casanova had begged to share. And look at the result! Casanova wanted to die. Casanova wanted to jump from the bridge and drown in the Thames. But before she broke the waters below, her own waters broke and Casanova began to give birth.

GEORGE III:

The King of England, George III, was accustomed to walk by the Thames late at night, being a monarch of private and eccentric habits, and he came across Casanova at the very moment her baby was born. The King had fathered fourteen children himself, so one more made no difference to him, and once he had heard Casanova’s sorry tale, he decided that he would take the child himself and- who knew- perhaps one day, a descendant of Casanova’s might be King of England- or, at the very least, Princess of Wales. In exchange for the child, he gave Casanova a purse of golden sovreigns and ordered her to set sail that very night for Europe. The last sight Casanova had of her child, as she hurried away, it was being gently held in the arms of the King on London Bridge.

CASANOVA:

The first ship to sail that night was for Spain and Casanova, though she had endured and suffered much in London, took comfort from the fact that her child was now a member of the English Royal Family. The small purse of gold that the King had given her meant that she was no longer penniless. She would go on to better things as she had always done in the past. As Casanova stood by the ship’s rail, watching the moonlight silver the dark waves below, she caught the attention of an actor who was strolling the deck before retiring.

ACTOR:

The actor noticed that there was something about her demeanour which was both strong and vulnerable, both brave and timid, both voluptuous and chaste, both knowing and innocent, both promiscuous and virginal, both sacred and profane. The actor introduced himself to Casanova and took such an interest in her, was so kind to her, so easily made her laugh, that when she danced in his arms at the ship’s ball later that night, Casanova felt that Casanova was fully Casanova once again.

CASANOVA:

Slowly, the voyage to Spain became the happiest few days that Casanova had known for a long while. Every night, before dinner at the Captain’s Table, the actor came to her cabin and presented Casanova with a fresh camellia to wear. After dinner, they danced, or sipped champagne, or simply stood at the ship’s rail together looking up at the heavens.

ACTOR:

On their final night, as they were approaching the coast of Spain, the actor confessed to Casanova that he was married with a child and that, regrettably, they could not meet again. He lit two cigarettes at the same time and placed one gently between Casanova’s lips. The actor asked Casanova if she would be happy.

CASANOVA:

But Casanova told him that they must not ask for the moon- they had the stars. They smoked their cigarettes. Casanova thought she could hear music and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the actor had gone and the ship had finally reached Spain. Needless to say, believe it, before the week was out, Casanova had become a matador in the famous bullring in Ronda, one of the loveliest towns in Andalucia. Casanova introduced her own way of fighting the bull: not on horseback, as the earlier matadors had done, but in a daring and revolutionary style in which she stayed within a few inches of the bull throughout the fight. When she fought the bull, the matador Casanova had six assistants- two picadores, lancers, mounted on horseback; three banderilleros, flagmen, and one mozo de espada, a swordservant. A trumpet boasted loudly and Casanova strode into the bullring in her spectacular traje de luces, a suit of lights.

PICADOR:

Next, the huge, black bull was released into the ring. The crowd roared and cheered! Casanova flourished her red and gold cape at the bull and performed the suerte de capote. The bull was incensed! The bull was wild! Casanova snapped her fingers and the two picadores came at the bull on horseback to execute the Tercio de varas, the lancing of the bull. They stabbed the mound of muscle on the bull’s neck. Two red ribbons of blood streamed from the bull’s back.

BANDERILLERA:

Then came the banderilleras, whose task was to plant barbed sticks on the bull’s flanks. Red roses of blood bloomed on the maddened bull. Finally, Casanova stood alone in the bullring with the bloody, bellowing bull. It was time for the Tercio de muerte, the third of death. The Spanish crowd bayed in a frenzy. The swordservant handed the 17.

estoque to Casanova and she held out the red cloth of the muleta before the ferocious, pain-crazed bull.

CASANOVA:

Casanova could feel the bull’s scalding, murderous breath on her face as she flourished her cape before it in an exquisite dance of death. As the monsterous bull lowered its great head to try to impale Casanova on its horns, gore her, then toss her into the air, Casanova prepared to plunge her sword into the spot precisely between the bull’s two horns. Casanova and the bull were face to face, but the moment the bull looked into Casanova’s eyes it knew love for the first time and knelt at Casanova’s feet. The bull rolled over in the dust of the bullring floor and gazed up adoringly at Casanova. Moved beyond words, Casanova knelt beside the bull and stroked its head, using her muleta to wipe away the blood from the poor bull’s flesh wounds. The bull gave a deep sigh which seemed to mingle both love and faithfulness. Casanova jumped up and tossed away her sword. Behind her, the bull got to its feet and stood beside Casanova, head bowed. There was silence in the bull ring. And then, out of the crowd, came a child’s voice. Ole! And then another and another, until suddenly the whole crowd began to roar. Ole! Ole! Ole! Casanova bowed again and again to the cheering crowd as roses showered down on her head. But as she ran from the ring, with the bull trotting devotedly by her side, she felt sure she caught a glimpse of the Detective from Venice in the crowd. That very night, Casanova left Spain for Albania.

INNKEEPER:

In Albania,Casanova found a small inn at the foot of the mountains, where the handsome, lonely Innkeeper fed her well each evening on Tave kosi, baked lamb with yoghurt, or Qofte te ferguara, fried meatballs, or Mish Qingjji me Barbunja, veal with large lima beans, or Byrek ose Lakror, Albanian vegetable pie. The Innkeeper would pour his dear friend Casanova glass after glass of Vere Shqiptare, a strong and bold red wine. In return for this generous Albanian hospitality, each night, after supper, Casanova would play on a small wooden guitar and sing the old Southern lullabies of Albania as a full, apricot moon rose over the mountain.

CASASNOVA:

When the time came for her to move on, Casanova embraced the weeping Innkeeper and set off for Austria. In Vienna, Casanova gave a solo concert on violin, which was ecstatically received by the Austrian cognoscenti. Casanova determined to travel on to Prague, Dresden, Lepizig and Berlin with her violin- and so it was that one dark, windy night, she found herself in a coach clattering between Prague and Dresden with the great musical genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who like Casanova, was on his way to play a series of concerts in Germany.

MOZART:

Mozart explained to Casanova that he had been composing music since he was 5 years old. He had composed many wonderful operas, including Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebotes, Apollo et Hyacinthus, Bastien und Bastienne, La finta semplice, Mitridate, re di Ponto, Ascania in Alba, Il sogno di Scipione, Lucio Silla, La finta giardiniera, Il re pastore, Thamos, Konig in Agypten, Zaide, Idomeneo, Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, L’oca del Cairo, Lo Sposo deluso, Der Schauspieldirektor and Le nozze di Figaro. But now, Mozart was stuck! His librettist was proving worse than useless and Mozart desperately needed an idea for a new opera.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, also, had composed many operas and began to recount the story of her life to Mozart. It was then that Casanova had an excellent autobiographical idea! She suggested to dear Wolfgang an opera about a great lover- one who had taken 640 lovers in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey and 1,003 in Spain. This character- call him Don Giovanni- would be a compulsive seducer who lived only for wine and love-making, the essence and glory of humankind. There would be wonderful arias in this new opera! One aria should lay bare before us Don Giovanni’s innermost being, his raison d’etre- a magically energetic song containing a feverish explosion of sheer sexual energy. Don Giovanni would be nothing more nor less than the story of Casanova herself!

MOZART:

Mozart was well impressed and totally inspired by Casanova! The more he heard of Casanova’s Life and Times, the more the music flowed into Mozart’s soul! By the time their coach and horses were clattering into early morning Dresden, Casanova and Mozart had completed both the libretto and the music for their new opera, Don Giovanni, and Mozart was singing to Casanova:

For a carousal,
Where all is madness,
Where all is gladness,
Do thou prepare.
Maids are pretty,
Dames are witty,
All to my castle
Bid them repair.
I’ll have no discipline,
Folly shall rule it,
Some minuetting,
So they are fair.
Then in the gloaming,
Pensively roaming,
Some pretty damsel with me will stray...
Beauties in plenty my list adorning,
Will ere the morning,
Not say me nay, none say me nay.

CASANOVA:

The streets of Dresden were busy with market-stalls and cafes setting out their tables for the day and, after Mozart and Casanova had said the fondest of farewells, Casanova set off in search of a good breakfast. She found an excellent looking establishment in a pleasant square close to the Cathedral and sat down at a table. She smiled as the waiter approached.

WAITER:

The waiter took one look at Casanova and wanted her for his own. Never in his life had he seen someone so good looking.

CASANOVA:

Casanova requested some bread and cheese- brot und kase- and a jug of strong hot coffee.

WAITER:

The waiter gazed into Casanova’s eyes and told her that there were ten kinds of bread to choose from Roggenmischbrot, Toastbrot, Vollkornbrot, Weizenmischbrot, Weibrot, Mehrkornbrot, Roggenbrot, Sonnenblumenkernbrot, Kurbiskernbrot und Zwiebelbrot. Rye-wheat, Toast-bread, Whole-grain, Wheat-rye, Multi-grain, Rye, Sunflower Seed, Pumpkin Seed or Onion Bread?

CASANOVA:

Casanova chose the Sonnenblumenkernbrot.

WAITER:

For cheese, the waiter recommended the Barlauchrebell- wild garlic cheese- and explained that wild garlic was used to enhance this semi-hard seasonal cheese made from the raw milk of cows who grazed on Bavarian mountain meadows. During an 8-week ripening period, the cheese was saturated with a mixture of fines herbs which imparted a healthy aromatic flavour. Also- it was an aphrodisiac.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, of course, knew this well. She ordered the Barlauchrebell and sat contentedly in the sunshine as the waiter poured her coffee and set out her bread and cheese.

WAITER:

When Casanova had supped and eaten and settled her bill, the waiter insisted that Casanova tell him everything about herself and by the time she had finished, the waiter was even more enamoured than before. He made Casanova promise to meet him outside the Cathedral the next morning where they would be married by the Bishop of Dresden himself.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, who never like to hurt a lover’s feelings, agreed and told the waiter that she would spend the day being fitted for wedding clothes and that she would meet him on the Cathedral steps at 10 o’clock the following morning.

WAITER:

The waiter kissed beloved Casanova’s fingertips, weeping with
happiness, and told her that a man’s wife was his destiny.

CASANOVA:

Casanova spent an agreeable day sightseeing in Dresden and that evening she gave a violin concert which was attended by Bach himself, believe it, and by the teenaged Beethoven. The concert hall was packed, with standing room only at the back, and as Casanova took her twelth curtain call she was certain she saw the Detective from Venice half-concealed behind a pillar. Later that night, she hired a horse and set off on the road to Leipzig. The horse, who had never loved a rider as much as it loved Casanova, galloped all night for dear life. The next morning in Leipzig, Casanova found an excellent Coaching Inn where she stabled the good and faithful horse and sat down at a table in the sunny courtyard to order breakfast. She smiled pleasantly at the waitress.

WAITRESS:

As soon as the waitress clapped eyes on Casanova, she was lost. Never had she seen such a totally gorgeous creature.

CASANOVA:

Casanova ordered bread, cheese and coffee.

WAITRESS:

The waitress said that there were seven different cheeses that morning- Butterlease, Harzerkase, Limburger, Munster, Rauchkase, Tilsit and Barlauchrebell.

CASANOVA:

Casanova ordered the Barlauchrebell because she was particularly fond of wild garlic, a proven aphrodisiac, ja?

WAITRESS:

The smitten waitress was well impressed with Casanova’s expertise in German cheese and recommended the freshly baked Pumpernickel- a black bread- to accompany it.

CASANOVA:

Casanova went along with the Pumpernickel and basked happily in the fine morning as the pretty waitress poured her coffee and set out her bread and cheese.

WAITRESS:

When Casanova had eaten her fill and settled her bill, the waitress begged Casanova to tell her everything there was to know about
Casanova. By the time she had finished, the waitress was half mad with love and pleaded with Casanova to marry her the next morning. They would meet at the Cathedral and the Bishop of Leipzig himself would conjoin them.

CASANOVA:

Casanova- who would do anything rather than offend a lover’s sensibilities- readily agreed. She would spend the day ordering a wedding feast and would meet the waitress outside the Cathedral at 11 o’clock the next morning.

WAITRESS;

The waitress covered Casanova’s beautiful neck in soft kisses and told her that their love was written in the stars.

CASANOVA:

Casanova spent an enjoyable day exploring Leipzig before she gave her violin concert in the evening. Rapturously received, as ever, and heaped with flowers, she caught the night coach to Berlin as soon as the concert was over. In Berlin, she stayed at the best hotel and, being a little tired from all those big gigs, she ordered that breakfast should be served to her in her suite. Casanova opened her door and smiled sleepily at the room-service waiter.

ROOM-SERVICE WAITER:

The room-service waiter nearly dropped his tray when he saw Casanova. This, right, was totally the most fit person he had ever seen in all his days, no question. He poured Casanova’s coffee and set out her bread and cheese. When Casanova had had her fill, the room-service waiter asked to be told the story of Casanova’s life and by the time Casanova had stopped talking, the room-service waiter was head over heels. Despite this, he managed to get down on one knee and propose to Casanova. The two of them would be spliced the next morning at the Cathedral by the Bishop of Berlin himself.

CASANOVA:

Casanova, who didn’t like to upset a lover in any way, accepted. She would spend the day choosing the wedding rings and would meet the room-service waiter at the Cathedral door at noon the next morning.

ROOM-SERVICE WAITER:

The room-service waiter kissed life-changing Casanova a dozen times on the lips and told her they were born to be together.

CASANOVA:

Casanova spent an interesting day touring Berlin and in the evening gave the last of her violin concerts. The audience- which included Goethe, the Pope, Catherine the Great, Frederick the Great, Madame de Pompadour, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Prince Charles de Ligne and Benjamin Franklin, who all happened to be in Berlin that night- gave Casanova a standing ovation and carried her shoulder-high to a Champagne Reception and Ball in Casanova’s honour in the Great Room at Berlin City Hall. Casanova had changed into a glittering ballgown and she danced with everyone who asked her, man or woman, beneath the glittering chandeliers, until the whole room seemed to sparkle with love.

GOETHE:

Mein Gott! Just to be near Casanova was to be inspired! It was on this night that the great German genius Goethe conceived the idea for his timeless masterpiece, Faust... for the great German genius Goethe would have sold his great German genius soul for one night with darling Casanova.

POPE:

Even the Pope, bless, when all the champagne had been drunk, agreed to turn the water at the Reception into wine, so that beloved Casanova, surely a child of God, who adored vino, would not go without so much as one sip at her celebration party.

CATHERINE THE GREAT:

Catherine the Great of Russia curtseyed low before Casanova and vowed to model herself upon magnificent Casanova in every possible respect. Everyone present wanted to hear every word that Casanova had to utter! Da!
CASANOVA:

But after a while, having danced and uttered and supped... and danced and uttered and supped... Casanova wandered outside to stand on the balcony by herself. And although even the Moon itself seemed to gaze down adoringly, Casanova felt deeply alone. She was homesick for Venice. She pined for the Grand Canal, the Rialto, San Marco, for noontime bells, for piazzas, trattorias, maskmakers, for the sound of tethered gondolas knocking together on the water. She must go back! To Venezia! Pronto! In one swift movement, Casanova swung her leg over the balcony and jumped down into the darkness below. Arrivederci!

POPE:

The sad Pope, holding out a transubstantiated glass of the finest vino rosso, appeared on the empty balcony and stood blessing and blessing and blessing divine Casanova as she fled away into the night. In nomine partis et filii et spiritus sancti. Amen.

CASANOVA:

Casanova walked and walked until she reached the German-Italian border just as the sun appeared in the sky. She sat on a crooked stile and opened her bag to count out her cash. She had one hundred Deutschmarks earned from her concerts in Germany and one hundred Pesetas earned from her bullfighting in Spain. But this was not nearly enough to return in style to Venice and purchase a Palazzo on the Grand Canal.

COUNTESS:

As Casanova sat on her stile, a fine young Countess clipped by in an elegant horse and carriage. She ordered her driver to stop and they drew to a slow halt in the road. The fine young Countess told Casanova that she knew very well who she was- such was Casanova’s huge fame. Goodness, she had known her name since she was a girl! The fine young Countess asked her what she, Casanova, was doing there, sat on a stile in the middle of nowhere. The Countess herself was returning that morning to her grand Castle in Bohemia.
CASANOVA:

Casanova looked at the fine young Countess and thought secretly to herself that if old Monsieur Everyman could have had a daughter, then this would be she- so alike did they look! She explained to the Countess that she had decided to return to her home town- Venezia- but that she did not yet have the money to buy herself the Palazzo of her dreams.

COUNTESS:

The fine young Countess was very sympathetic and told Casanova that she herself had everything she needed in life, except for a Librarian to catalogue the many fine and rare books at her Castle. If she could only persuade someone to undertake this scrupulous and methodical task... why then, she would be a complete Countess! Perhaps Casanova would accept the position- which was, of course, believe it, salaried- and in that way she could save up enough money to return to Venice in the style which her very name alone- Casanova- demanded.

CASANOVA:

So Casanova agreed there and then to be the Countess’s Librarian. She hopped down from her stile, into the fine young Countess’s coach, and off they headed for Bohemia. And this, alas, was how Casanova’s fortunes finally took a turn for the absolute worst.

MANSERVANT:

Once installed as her new Librarian in the fine young Countess’s Bohemian Castle- a dark, isolated, thunder-and lightning lashed, wind-battered abode- Casanova discovered that she was at the mercy of the Countess’s servants.

COOK:

The Servants hated Casanova on sight and did not believe a word she said about her so-called Life and Times.

BUTLER:

The Servants thought Casanova was totally boring and deeply unattractive and not getting any younger either.

MANSERVANT:

The Servants took great pleasure in ridiculing Casanova. They would pretend to fight a bull in the Library just to upset her.

COOK:

Or pretend to sail a gondola in the bathroom just to enrage her.

BUTLER:

Or pretend to play the violin using kitchen implements purely to demoralise her.

MANSERVANT:

Month after month they devised new ways of being mean to Casanova.

BUTLER:

There was no end to their malevolent inventiveness.

COOK:

Season after season they delighted in being spiteful and unkind. They could hardly stand the bloody sight of stupid, smelly, clapped-out, old Casanova with her silly, pompous, unbelievable tales.

CASANOVA:

When the fine young Countess- who was often absent- had grand or famous visitors to the Castle, although Casanova was permitted to take her place at the end of the table, the Countess ignored her.

COUNTESS:

She did not bother to introduce boring, embarrassing Casanova to the celebrity politicians and artists, musicians and poets and philosophers, scientists, designers and performers, who came to dine whenever the fne young Countess was in residence. Indeed, she encouraged her guests to laugh openly at ludicrous Casanova whenever she spoke. Wasn’t it true that old Casanova had once been a great lover? Everyone roared! Wasn’t it the case that daft Casanova had inspired the writings of Voltaire? Everyone howled. Didn’t dumb Casanova speak every European language fluently? Oui? Ja? Yes? Si? Tak? Everyone shrieked. Holy Casanova knew the Pope! Everyone cracked up. Blueblood Casanova’s descendants were members of the English Royal Family! Everyone died! Famous Casanova was a matador, a musician, a marvel of the age! Everyone was nearly sick or in pleats or beside themselves!

COOK:

When Casanova ordered a freshly caught and lightly grilled fish with lemon and thyme for her dinner, the Cook made sure to give her an old banana.

CASANOVA:

This made Casanova cry.

COOK:

When Casanova asked for beef stew with herb dumplings and creamed potatoes for her supper, the Cook made certain to give her brittle chicken bones and cold raw spuds.

CASANOVA:

This made Casanova ill.

BUTLER:

When Casanova asked for a claret, the servants gave her vinegar.

CASANOVA:

Casonava spluttered and choked.

MANSERVANT:

When Casanova requested champagne, one particularly talented servant peed in a crystal flute and all of the others servants were doubled up as she tried to spit it out without the Countess and her fancy guests noticing.

BUTLER:

Every meal was inedible. Every drink was undrinkable. Every social occasion was total humiliation.

COOK:

And, of course, believe it, nobody fancied Casanova

BUTLER:

Nobody fancied Casanova.

MANSERVANT:

Nobody fancied Casanova.

COOK:

The servants watched as Casanova grew older and sadder, until she was no more than a small grey presence in the Castle of the Countess- like a ghost.

MANSERVANT:

Or like a dog- whom they would occasionally kick, if they happened to pass her and needed to dust their black boots on her arse.

CASANOVA:

One evening, as Casanova dressed sadly for dinner in her threadbare old clothes, she became aware of the most wonderful music coming from outside on the Castle lawns.

COUNTESS:

The fine young Countess was at home and had invited the rich and the famous and the totally gorgeous to hear a specially performed Opera before dinner. The Opera Company had come all the way from Vienna to perform that night in the torch-lit Castle grounds.

CASANOVA:

It was the music of Mozart! With an Italian libretto! Casanova knew it at once- it was Don Giovanni! Casanova hurried downstairs and ran outside... her whole being open to the wonderful, heartbreaking sound of the soprano.

SOPRANO:

Non mi dir, bell’ idol mio,
Che son io crudel con te;
Tu ben sai quant’ io t’amai.
Tu conosci la mia fe.

Calma, calma il tuo tormento,
Se di duol non vuoi ch’io mora!
Forse un giorno il cielo ancora
Sentira pieta di me.

CASANOVA:

Say not, my beloved,
that I am cruel to you:
you well know how much I love you,
and you know that I am true.

Calm your torments
if you would not have me die of grief!
One day, perhaps, heaven
will again have pity on me.

With tears pouring down her old face, Casanova explained to the guests that they were listening to her Opera. That she, Casanova, had written it with Mozart himself! The Opera was inspired by the LIfe and Times of Casanova!

(CASANOVA REPEATS THIS IN MANY LANGUAGES)

COUNTESS:

The Countess and her guests roared with laughter at the foolish old Librarian and began to applaud her derisively.

MANSERVANT:

Someone kicked Casanova in the arse and she bent forward as though bowing to the crowd.

CASANOVA:

As Casanova looked tragically around at all the mocking faces, she saw a familiar figure at the back of the throng. It was the Detective from Venice. Casanova turned and hobbled quickly to her room in the attic. There was no lock to her door and as Casanova stood by the window overlooking the Castle roof, she could hear heavy footsteps ascending the stair. Terror leapt into her heart! It was the Detective, finally come to claim her and take her back to the hell of that awful prison. But wait! It was always her most heartfelt and considered opinion that when a girl set herself so determinedly to do something- and thought of nothing else but her design- she must, must, must succeed- despite all the difficulties in her path.

DETECTIVE:

The door was opening and the shadow of the Detective from Venice fell into the room at last.

CASANOVA:

But she was Casanova, Venezia’s child, and she would escape into the heart of her own legend. Casanova stepped from the window and into a waiting gondola. As she drifted over the rooftop and out into the open sky, she grew younger. Casanova waved at the guests far below on the lawn and they waved back, looking up at her with love and amazement. The fine young Countess and her servants were on their knees in adoration. On and on the gondola floated, over the Alps and down into Italy until finally all Venice sparkled before her and Casanova was drifting along the Grand Canal towards the Rialto. All the bells of Venice were ringing in celebration and as she neared the bridge, Casanova saw that it was crowded with the most beautiful young men and women she had ever seen, all calling and calling her name. Believe it.