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 Post subject: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2003 5:55 am 
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The first two reviews of Jamie Tapper's "Manon":

Manon
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


With the role of Manon, Kenneth MacMillan has dealt his ballerina a lavish hand that she is almost free to shuffle at will. This is a character who flips from naive romantic to amoral gold digger, from damaged victim to manipulative tart. In the best performances, she can be all these things in one moment.

Jaimie Tapper modulates her compact powerful body through the giddy, sensuous and ultimately desperate dynamics of MacMillan's choreography with real intelligence. But one of the things that makes her Manon only half alive is the predictability with which she plays each of her character's cards. First we see the giddy girl, then the passionate lover, then the calculating mistress, then the damaged wreck. What we don't see is Tapper flicking backwards and forwards through these selves so that the role has animation and depth.

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A sensual jewel in MacMillan crown
By Debra Craine for The Times


THIS season, as the Royal Ballet marks the tenth anniversary of the death of the choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, his three greatest full-length ballets are in the spotlight. Last autumn’s revival of Mayerling started the ball rolling; Romeo and Juliet arrives in June. But for now we have what is arguably the most successful of all his big ballets, Manon.
It has travelled everywhere, from St Petersburg to New York, from Paris to Houston and beyond. Here at home there seems no end to the public’s enthusiasm for MacMillan’s steamy tale of the gold-digging courtesan who ends up dying ignominiously in the swamps of Louisiana. With its overheated emotions and fabulous furs, ballerinas love it too.

There is plenty here to recommend this ballet besides the sensual choreography. The Massenet score may be a compilation but it’s jolly good and those luscious melodies will stick with you long after the curtain has dropped. Nicholas Georgiadis’s Regency Paris designs are thick with fabric and atmosphere — and fantastic to look at.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2003 4:37 am 
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Covent Garden fields a handsome couple
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


Manon is returned to the Royal Ballet repertory - not that this milch-cow is ever tethered far away from the Covent Garden box-office. The management knows that it will fill the house. Audiences, after three decades, know that its combination of youthful passion, lust, whores, and choreography that retains its bloom of passion is irresistible.

And, of course, so it proved on Monday night when Roberto Bolle (from La Scala) made his London debut as Des Grieux, headlong in love with Darcey Bussell's Manon. Bussell and Bolle are sympathetic in physique - Bolle's very handsome looks, tall and elegant lines well- matched with Bussell's sweeping extensions - and they make what be-hatted matrons at weddings call "a handsome couple".

Bolle, I think, has never seemed better in his London appearances. Darkly devastating, caught up in his obsession with Manon, he treats MacMillan's steps with the eagerness of a man hungry for physical release as for emotional fulfilment. He makes brave, bold arcs of movement, hangs securely on to an arabesque and sinks deep into a luscious fifth position as if savouring the interplay of muscle and academic manner.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 6:05 am 
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Manon, Royal Opera House, London
By Nadine Meisner for The Independent

Even if you are resistant to the charms of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, there is no escape. Manon is everywhere: in America, in Russia, in Australia, in Continental Europe – and here in England, where, for 28 years, she has returned season after season to the Royal Opera House. Clearly it is the narrative that attracts audiences, a romantic tragedy in which Des Grieux loves Manon through thick and thin, only to watch her die.

Personally, I've always found the ballet's treatment of the story to be crass, and Massenet's music ineffectual – its flaccid sentimentality redeemed only by the heart-tugging theme attributed to Manon. But then two French guest dancers, Sylvie Guillem and Laurent Hilaire (replacing an injured Jonathan Cope), came along.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:35 am 
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Enough space to swing
Manon by Jann Parry for The Observer.

Beauty does, however, make up for a lot. Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle were a gorgeous pair in the Royal Ballet's Manon on Monday. They turn the seedy tale into one of innocence not so much corrupted as a tad spoilt. Bussell's Manon is a good-hearted girl with an unfortunate penchant for diamond bracelets; Bolle's handsome seminarian is all she could want, apart from his empty pockets.

Bolle is rich in partnering skills, though, and he understands that MacMillan's choreography has meaning. Des Grieux tells Manon what he thinks and feels, dancing for her, not for us.

That distinction escapes David Makhateli, borrowed from Houston Ballet for Jaimie Tapper's debut as Manon. His sole concern is to show off his arabesques. Tapper, like Bussell, reveals one aspect of the anti-heroine at a time, instead of making her a slippery bundle of contradictions.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:38 am 
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To the power of 10
A decade since the death of MacMillan and the Royal Ballet pays homage with a splendid Manon. By David Dougill for The Sunday Times.


The Royal Ballet is celebrating two of its greatest names this season — Kenneth MacMillan and Rudolf Nureyev. This year sees the 10th anniversaries of their deaths, and the repertory of revivals on stage is complemented and illuminated by two handsome exhibitions spread around the foyers of the Opera House. These evoke the 1960s and 1970s, which we remember as a golden age for the company: such a range of work, such fabulous stars.

The nearby Theatre Museum has also put on two shows, the MacMillan one especially rewarding. And all taken together, they provide — as well as a record of choreography and dancing — a rich conspectus of ballet designs by two favourite collaborators of both MacMillan and Nureyev, also now departed: Nicholas Georgiadis and Barry Kay. It adds up to a real visual feast.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 9:28 am 
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Unfortunately it seems that overseas readers of The Times can no longer read these articles online :mad: without paying a fee.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 9:58 am 
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I'm really sorry to hear that librarian. Fortunately the UK papers provide a wide range of views on the RB performances for you to enjoy. I hope that the creeping restrictions on access to newspapers do not gain further ground.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:41 am 
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Manon
By Gavin Roebuck for The Stage


This three-act ballet, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan to Leighton Lucas' arrangement of Jules Massenet's score, is nearly 30 years old. The current generation of dancers performs the strong narrative of the production well. The dance in which Manon's feet never touch the stage as she is lifted over the head from man to man is choreographically innovative, never mind the three gorgeous lyrical pas de deux.

Darcey Bussell is now developing a mature approach to her performances – she brings a heightened awareness to this staging by artistic director Monica Mason and choreologist Monica Parker.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2003 5:37 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Manon on the Manor
A local trust is screening a Royal Ballet performance in one of Sheffield's most deprived areas - but residents are sceptical about the idea, writes Paul Humphries for The Guardian

Could you attract 20,000 people to a performance by the Royal Ballet on one of the most notorious council estates in Sheffield? Yes, believes the local regeneration body - and it is prepared to put its money where its mouth is.

The community-run Manor and Castle development trust, which is charged with regenerating Sheffield's infamous Manor estate, has stumped up £35,000 to underwrite the beaming of a live performance from the Royal Opera House to a giant screen in a local park.

It has agreed to make a guarantee against loss after Sheffield City Council and a local group promoting events in the park failed to secure sufficient sponsorship by the Royal Ballet's deadline.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2003 11:59 pm 
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Some of the most ecstatic reviews I have ever read in the UK press:

Manon
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


Alina Cojocaru delivered scores of extraordinary moments in her debut performance of Manon, particularly her entrance into the big party scene of act two. A tiny figure, dominated as much by the weight of her character's new finery as by the height of her companion Monsieur GM (Christopher Saunders), Cojocaru looked shockingly like a child prostitute. It was an image that flitted queasily through her performance and one that only a dancer could have sustained with such physical subtlety.

When, for instance, GM first attempts to buy Manon's favours, Cojocaru's limbs looks so girlish that his caresses almost leave a mark. When he sits her on his knee, she is hypnotised by his power yet squirms like an uncomfortable child to evade his pawing grasp. She thrills to GM's presents, and to the discovery of her erotic power over him, but seems like an innocent who has been duped into complicity.

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Manon
By Debra Craine for The Times


KENNETH MACMILLAN’S Manon is one of the most frequently performed ballets in the Covent Garden repertoire. With good reason. There are few roles as meaty as Manon and Des Grieux, the ill-fated Parisian lovers who come to a sticky end in the swamps of Louisiana. And there can be few interpretations as convincing as those we saw at the Royal Opera House on Monday night, when Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg made their debuts as Manon and Des Grieux.

Cojocaru and Kobborg are undoubtedly the stage pairing du jour at the Royal Ballet. They seem to understand one another instinctively; their styles (he’s Danish, she’s Romanian) mesh beautifully; and they take chances with their dancing that others can’t. Theirs is a tremendously exciting partnership, and I’ve never seen it to better effect than here in the heartstopping duets of Manon.

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A debauched and detailed gem
Luke Jennings for The Daily Telegraph reviews Manon performed by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden.

In the three decades since Kenneth MacMillan choreographed Manon, the title role has become one of the great ballerina challenges. Quite apart from the role's technical demands, the character of Manon Lescaut is studded with contradictions: she is at once an innocent and a femme fatale, an impulsive child and a calculating, mercenary bitch.

In her first performance in the role, Alina Cojocaru presents Manon as a glittering but feckless adolescent. When she first sees Des Grieux (Johan Kobborg), the student who is to be her lover, her glance is coolly assessing. Where, she seems to say, is the profit in this? It is not long, though, before a reckless hunger for sensation sees her in his arms. And so begins the inevitable tragedy, with Manon led from decision to decision - and finally to her death - by lethal whimsy.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 7:09 pm 
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Tamara Rojo made an outstanding role debut as Manon last night, revelling in the sensuality and alive to every nuance. Will be interested to see the press - she is so different to Cojocaru, who I look forward to seeing later in the month.

Rojo was superbly partnered by Carlos Acosta as des Grieux, and Jose Martin as Lescaut. Rojo and Martin were very well matched as siblings. The programme lists many principal coaches, and I thought I detected the influence of Lynn Seymour on Rojo.

It was quite a Spanish evening, with Laura Morera as a delicious Mistress, and Jose Maria Tirado a very attractive Gaoler.

For the record, the conducting and orchestra were not on good form, the violin solo disastrously missing his cue in Rojos' first solo.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 2:02 am 
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Review from The FT.

Quote:
White smoke from the Covent Garden chimneys on Wednesday night. We have a Manon!

After years in which the role has seemed either lacklustre or mannered, Tamara Rojo - in a debut - reasserted its irresistible charm, its emotional lustre.

Rojo is a creature of the theatre who, when the role suits her, makes it anew in her own image. Her first appearance in Ondine was, I heretically found, more intriguing than Fonteyn's creation. In Song of the Earth, in Shadowplay, she has worn the dance with an unassailable rightness.

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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 3:25 am 
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I haven't seem Manon (must be the only one who hasn't!),but i was wondering if the video of the Royal Ballet's production is any good as i'm planning on buying it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 4:33 am 
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Is this the one, spf:

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Manon. Jennifer Penney, Anthony Dowell, David Wall, The Royal Ballet. Published: 2000

The 1982 recording of Kenneth MacMillan's three-act ballet.

*********************

I haven't seen this version, but given the quality of the dancers, I'd be keen to see it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's "Manon" - 2003
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2003 3:03 am 
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Manon - Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo
By Nadine Meisner for The Independent

Manon, how I wish - as your lover, Des Grieux, should, if he had any sense - I had never clapped eyes on you. How I wish your story had never been written (by that crashing bore Abbé Prévost) or composed (by too many opera composers) or choreographed (by Kenneth MacMillan). But there we are: a whole Manon industry, for the evident delectation of everybody except me.

Very occasionally, though, a cast arrives on stage that grips this grump's attention until the final curtain. Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo, who made their debuts in the ballet this month, are one such cast. We know that Acosta and Rojo have the same approach, that, for all their virtuosity, they believe that steps must have meaning.

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