QUEEN, lover, mother, villain or victim… who was the real Cleopatra?
“She is one of those people in history who is truly larger than life. Intellectually, she rules in a man’s world and she is able to dominate men.
“She can be the seductress but she also has the capacity for love and not just the men in her life – she loves her children and loves her country.
“In fact, most of what she does is inspired by her love for her country; the desire to retain the Egyptian empire and throne for her family and generations to come.”
The story might never have reached the stage, however, without the contribution of Claude Michel Schonberg, composer of hit musical Les Miserables and a previous NB collaborator for the company’s acclaimed version of Wuthering Heights.
“Claude Michel was really a catalyst for the piece. We knew we really needed to work together again. “I’d mentioned the Cleopatra idea to him seven years earlier. This time when I suggested it he went away, created his own scenario, then wrote some music and asked me to listen.”
From that began the collaborative process that would lead to one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated events.
“It was something a little different for both of us and we made a pact that, if nothing else, we would do this as a project just for us.”
This was one idea, though, that simply seemed to take on a life of its own, especially when award-winning dancer Martha Leebolt was cast in the central role.
“Martha was ideal for the part,” David insists. “With her as Cleopatra I didn’t have to search for the character’s identity.”
“And it is a great part; the story of a women who really has become immortal, who is as famous today as she was 2,000 years ago.”
Northern Ballet’s Cleopatra is at Sheffield’s Lyceum from Tuesday until Saturday.