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Masterpiece Theatre; Casanova

Casanova Part 1 of 2 HV Home Video Master

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Masterpiece Theatre
Series Description

Program premiered in 1971 with The First Churchills. Hosted by Alastair Cooke. Intended as a showcase for the best of British television drama. Spawned MYSTERY! in 1980. Current executive producer Rebecca Eaton. All promotion of program done by Frank Goodman & Associates (see below). Synopsis, cast information and producers listed by individual title. Series release date: 1971

Program Description

Broadcast October 8 and 15, 2006

A legendary lover romances his way across eighteenth-century Europe in Masterpiece Theatre's rollicking retelling of the life of Casanova, with Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, Troy) as the champion seducer in his golden years and David Tennant (Blackpool, Doctor Who) as Casanova in his frisky prime.

Part One: The aging Casanova (Peter O’Toole) is eking out a living as librarian to an absentee count. Encouraged by Edith (Rose Byrne), an innocent but curious servant, he begins reading extracts from his salacious memoirs. We learn of his unhappy childhood, his sexual awakening and the adult Casanova’s (David Tennant) modus operandi in Venetian high society, where he acquires a servant, Rocco (Shaun Parkes), and impersonates the ways of the wellborn in order to acquire money and seduce women. He meets an equally canny and upwardly mobile female version of himself in Henriette (Laura Fraser), with whom he falls madly in love. But she is engaged to Grimani (Rupert Penry-Jones), a jealous and conceited member of the nobility. While pursuing the seducer’s art, Casanova becomes intrigued by Bellino (Nina Sosanya), a castrato whom Casanova is convinced is really a woman. He proposes; however his more lasting attachments have a way of not working out. While hearing Casanova’s confession, a priest collapses from sin overload. Casanova nurses the cleric, Bragadin (Freddie Jones), back to health and is rewarded handsomely. Convinced that Henriette can now afford to ditch Grimani for him, our hero makes his move.

Part Two: Continuing his reminiscences to Edith, Casanova relates the aftermath of his daring prison break from Venice, where Grimani was responsible for his incarceration. Accompanied by his young bastard son and Rocco, Casanova travels through Europe, searching for a sympathetic Venetian ambassador who will grant him a pardon so that he may return to Venice and Henriette. In Paris, he chances on Bellino. In London, he briefly glimpses Henriette herself and later trades insults with Grimani, who challenges him to a duel. In the exchange of pistol shots, he learns that Henriette loathes Grimani. Wounded, Casanova travels to Saxony, where a mysterious nurse (Selina Cadell) sent by an anonymous benefactor saves his life. A visit to Naples on the eve of an eruption of Vesuvius puts him back in touch with Bellino, who introduces Casanova to his previously unknown daughter, now grown up and irresistibly attracted to Casanova’s grown up son (Tom Burke). The prospect of incest between brother and sister is too much for our hero, proving that he has standards after all. Years later, he laments to Rose his abiding love for Henriette concerning whose fate one last message arrives.



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Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Masterpiece Theatre; Casanova,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 13, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4A71062FE08048A98DAC9372ECF1E396.
MLA: “Masterpiece Theatre; Casanova.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 13, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4A71062FE08048A98DAC9372ECF1E396>.
APA: Masterpiece Theatre; Casanova. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4A71062FE08048A98DAC9372ECF1E396
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