ord7916

Manon

76 posts in this topic

So it looks like I have the privilege of writing the first review.

Let me say that from the start that tonight's Manon was a truly extraordinary experience. I have never seen anything like it at ABT or anywhere else.

This was my first time seeing Vishneva. How a human being can move as she does, I cannot quite comprehend. To watch her being lifted, spun around and quite literally be thrown from one person to another - I was in awe.

The first scene with Diana and Marcelo was mesmerizing and it just kept getting better until the stunning finale. There was talk on here about all the guest artists and how they are unfamiliar with each other and lack chemistry. Well, here we have the exact opposite - not just chemistry but outright passion. When the curtain came up for the first curtain call, they were locked in a tight embrace, seemingly oblivious to the audience who were cheering for them. By the 4th and 5th curtain calls, they looked utterly exhausted, but both very gracious.

And it is not just the chemistry between Diana and Marcelo, but also Diana and Victor Barbee as G.M, Diana and Roman Zhurbin, as the jailer, and I'd even say between Marcelo and Herman Cornejo. Herman was thrilling to watch and had a contagious energy and Roman was ruthlessly seductive.

Manon - the story, the dancing, the romance - is just so different than any ballet I've seen before. And this was one of those rare nights where the acting, the music, the dancing and the dancers all come together so perfectly.

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ord7916, you beat me to it, but I agree completely!

I went to see Kent/Bolle last night, and I was completely underwhelmed. The actual dancing was quite beautiful--in fact I was worried that Kent's age would show, but she and Bolle danced very well and looked lovely together. However, the story fell completely flat for me.

Today was a completely different story! THIS IS WHY I GO TO THE BALLET!!

Vishneva & Gomes were spectacular, and as I walked out, all I could think was WOW!

I had the privilege of speaking to Vishneva very briefly last year, and she told me that "Manon" was her favorite role, and now I can see why. I absolutely loved Act I, but her Act II Manon was amazing. I'm not sure any other ballerina could vamp like she does (okay, maybe except for Dvorovenko, but she's no longer dancing).

To use two cliches, although Vishneva & Gomes hit it out of the ballpark tonight, I think Saturday's performance is going to be completely out of this world! I simply can't wait!!

One last note--it looked like Vishneva's whole family was there! I saw her husband, her parents and her sister (as well as two people I assumed to be Vishneva's brother-in-law and nephew).

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I'm seeing Vishneva on Saturday, can't wait!!

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I went last night and as usual - thank you Diana and Marcelo for giving 110 percent and spilling your guts onstage. What a performance! That last pas de deux in the Louisiana bayou was amazing!

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Yes, spectacurlar dancing from Gomes and Vishneva in what, in my opinion, is a pretty awful ballet. Without great leads, this ballet becomes dull very fast. Herman was also pretty amazing. Expecting even more high wattage electricity at the Saturday matinee for Vishneva's 10th anniversary celebration. The house looked well sold compared to the earlier weeks of the season.

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Yes, spectacurlar dancing from Gomes and Vishneva in what, in my opinion, is a pretty awful ballet. Without great leads, this ballet becomes dull very fast. Herman was also pretty amazing. Expecting even more high wattage electricity at the Saturday matinee for Vishneva's 10th anniversary celebration. The house looked well sold compared to the earlier weeks of the season.

A pretty awful ballet? I'm surprised to hear that.

But I do wonder how the other casts can possibly measure up to last night. I really like Reyes, but I just can't picture her in that role. And it's hard to see Cory Stearns as the romantic lead type.

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The truly great choreography is in the few sections for the two lead performers. Most of the choreography for the corps and the secondary leads is not terribly difficult or impressive.

Reyes has done the role before w. ABT, but from what I recall she did not get good reviews. I would LOVE to see Part in this as the lead (and also as Juliet in R&J), but she may be too tall for all those difficult lifts.

Manon is probably Kent's best role at her present age. I'll see her on Thursday.

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I saw Reyes in the role of Manon in 2006 . She was totally miscast. I can't believe she's still dancing the role. I have loved Reyes in many ballets, among them Don Q, Giselle and Sleeping Beauty. But not Manon! I'm sorry but I don't think there's one sensual bone in Reyes' petite body. I have a ticket to the Saturday matinee and I am so excited. If any Ballet Alerters are attending the May 7th matinee maybe we can meet up before the ballet or during the intermissions. Let me know.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Reyes danced with Angel Corella when I saw her in Manon in 2006. He was really great!

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Who else at ABT can do that role? Part may be hard to lift. Murphy? Abrera?

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I strongly disagree that Manon is an "awful" ballet, but to each his own. Of course the ballet does need excellent leads. At the very least, Murphy would be better suited to the title role than Reyes.

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Who else at ABT can do that role? Part may be hard to lift. Murphy? Abrera?

I'd even give Paloma a go at the role over Reyes. Has Paloma she ever danced it? I can't remember. She can sometimes be stellar in these types of roles.

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Stella Abrera could be a sexy Manon but also Alina Cojocaru has the role in her repertory. Xiomara Reyes has the prepubescent look of a "Lolita" nymphet - the Manon in the Abbé Prevost novel is about fifteen when the Chevalier Des Grieux meets her at the Inn at Amiens. Reyes still can look like a teenager onstage and is a very good actress. But any cast ABT might field would find Vishneva and Gomes a tough act to follow.

I must mention that Misty Copeland was delightful as Lescaut's Mistress last night - very vivacious and alluring while dancing with abandon and control.

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I think Veronika Part would make a wonderful Manon. And James Whiteside could be the male lead. (I can't remember the guy's name right now). I saw Part and Whiteside in La Bayadere. Whiteside managed those lifts with Part beautifully. I can't believe Whiteside isn't dancing in Manon this year. I find him to be a very good actor. I agree that Stella Abrera would make a good Manon. I think Gillian would be as well. Her acting has gotten to be very good in the past few years. What about Hee Seo. She was wonderful last year in A Month in the Country and Onegin, both times with Hallberg.

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Somehow I do not feel that Hee Seo can pull it off. She does not strike me as a strong dramatic actor. Manon is a multi-dimensional part that requires a really versatile performer who is able to communicate character' development throughout the ballet.

I think Part would make a great Manon if she were partnered with Gomes. He always brings best in her.

If anyone is seeing Semionova tonight, I would love to hear your opinion.

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I think Veronika Part would make a wonderful Manon. And James Whiteside could be the male lead. (I can't remember the guy's name right now). I saw Part and Whiteside in La Bayadere. Whiteside managed those lifts with Part beautifully. I can't believe Whiteside isn't dancing in Manon this year. I find him to be a very good actor. I agree that Stella Abrera would make a good Manon. I think Gillian would be as well. Her acting has gotten to be very good in the past few years. What about Hee Seo. She was wonderful last year in A Month in the Country and Onegin, both times with Hallberg.

Whiteside is dancing in Manon but as Lescaut, not Des Grieux

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As FauxPas mentioned, any cast that followed Vishneva/Gomes would have a tough act to follow, and so it was tonight.

Semionova & Stearns put on a fine performance, but for me, they simply did not reach the dancing or emotional heights that last night's performance achieved.

In the first act, I found myself wishing that there was a stronger, taller dancer that could partner Semionova in this ballet. Stearns handled the partnering quite admirably, but I felt that both had to hold back a bit in order to focus on the tricky partnering maneuvers. Though nothing looked difficult or labored, it did not have that same effortless quality that both Kent/Bolle and Vishneva/Gomes achieved. Even though Stearns is quite a good partner, Semionova is simply too tall to throw herself at him with wild abandon. (She did seem to appreciate his efforts though--she gave him her entire bouquet during the bows, which was a very sweet gesture!)

That being said, maybe wild abandon is not her style. Even dancing by herself--in the Act II solo, for example--she did not take the movements to the extreme and vamp it up to the same delicious degree that Vishneva did. She is undeniably pretty and her long lines are lovely, but she doesn't DEMAND that you pay attention to her with her characterization the way Vishneva seems to do.

That being said, I did like both her and Stearns' characterizations of the roles.

On Monday, I found the qualities that make Bolle/Kent endearing as Romeo & Juliet make them rather unsympathetic in "Manon." They seem sweet, youthful, innocent, but not too bright--which is perfectly fine for the lovestruck teens--but didn't work for Manon and Des Grieux. To me, Kent's Manon seemed like she went from "oh look, he's so cute, let me to dance with him!" to "oh look, this old guy has lots of money!" without a single thought, while Bolle's Des Grieux was like, "she's so pretty, I'm just going to follow her around." Because they both seemed kind of clueless, I couldn't really feel sorry for them in Act III.

Vishneva's Manon was a slave to her desires. She craves love, she craves luxury. She's aware that she treats Des Grieux badly, that what she's doing is wrong, but she simply can't stop herself. Similarly, Gomes' Des Grieux knew very well that Manon mistreated him, that she's headed down a dangerous path, but she's just so damn irresistible that he also can't help himself either; he's drawn to her like a moth to a flame. And they both suffer terribly for their actions in Act III--their final p.d.d. is a sucker punch. And I found this arc of downward spiral, terrible suffering, and redemption through death to be very satisfying.

Today, Semionova's Manon was somewhere in the middle. She's not a silly teenager; she is calm and calculating. She regrets leaving Des Grieux, but she also knows what she wants--the finer things in life. Stearns' Des Grieux was also between the two extremes, both blindly devoted to her in a youthful, puppy-dog kind of way, but also willing to chastise her for her cupidity. Their suffering did not deliver a knockout, but it was dignified and sincere.

As for Reyes--I saw her in Act I and III in the dress rehearsal on Monday. I think it's somewhat unfair to comment on rehearsals, but I didn't think she would be completely miscast in the role. I will note that her petite size makes her look VERY child-like, which made the jailer rape scene especially disturbing to me, and made her appropriately weak/vulnerable looking for the rest of Act III.

**

One other note on the Lescauts and mistresses--James Whiteside was believable as Semionova's older brother, but Simkin was not really believable as Kent's brother, and Cornejo as Vishneva's brother was a stretch. Also, at the end of Act I, Simkin tackling Bolle to the ground, and Cornejo doing the same to Gomes, was simply hilarious and not realistic to me. Whiteside and Stearns seemed better matched.

Abrera/Simkin were surprisingly good in the drunken pas de deux in Act II--their size difference when she's on pointe was really funny. Cornejo/Copeland were also stellar. However, tonight, Part/Whiteside struggled a bit in that Whiteside had to seriously partner her, and it wasn't clear if they were having problems with the choreography or if they were being intentionally funny.

**

Anyway, can't wait to see Vishneva & Gomes again on Saturday!!

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I was at last night's Manon too. (Sorry I missed you Batsuchan!) I went in with low expectations. It was a good performance, but not a great one. First, although Stearns has been injured, he seemed fully recovered and didn't have any problem with executing the choreography. Semionova was goregous, and her extensions of her super long limbs in this choreography was a pleasure. There was not much chemistry between the leads, so this performance did not have the excitement or passion of the Vishneva-Gomes pairing. Cory did a fine job with all the tricky lifts, and Polina is certainly a difficult assignment because of her size. Whiteside was a much better bad guy than Cornejo, and he danced magnificently. Part was miscast, I thought, or maybe just having an off night.

Tuesday night was well sold, but last night the house was a ghost town. Very poor ticket sales.

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I saw both the Opening Night with Kent/Bolle/Simkin/Abrera and the folloeing night with Vishneva/Gomes/Cornejo/Copeland. Both were amazing petformances - both were very moving. Bolle boasted a line that was astonishing. In his first afagio he cteated a sense of Time Suspended. Kent has an ability to just continue with her own inner life, gestures, etc. while Bolle and all the other men are lifting her and thtoeing her around - she just seems to be floating ad if nothing is happening. Vishneva brings more thratricality and thr the Pavanne, more sensuality. Gomez is always a model partner and impassioned hero. Simkin was excellent and Cornejo was certainly deluxe cadting ad the brother. It is nrarly impossible to say which is best. I have certain ahes fro both casts that I cannot forget.

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I saw Manon with Vishneva and Gomes the other night as well. I hadn't seen the ballet since Alex Ferri (my idol) last performed it. I thought Diana and Marcelo were gorgeous together although I thought Diana was a bit too "alive" during the final scene (Ferri used to be rag doll limp). They have such great chemistry together. I thought Herman danced very well in his solo bits as Lescaut's but to me it looked like he was struggling a bit partnering Misty. All in all, though, a terrific performance.

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I saw the Kent/Bolle cast last night. Bolle hardly performs with ABT, so it was a rare treat to see this wonderful dancer. He is, in my opinion, every bit as good as Marcelo in this ballet in terms of acting and technical achievement. I enjoyed Kent's performance, although when compared to Semionova and Vishneva you can easily see her technical limitations these days, especially in the diminished flexibility of her back.

Simkin and Stella were both terrific. However, I think it was a bad idea to cast Simkin as Kent's brother. That was not the familial relationship that one thought of when seeing them together. ABT should have used someone like Whiteside in this cast, who is at least a bit older looking.

Once again, the Met was largely empty. Ticket sales for this ballet have been dismal, except for the Vishneva cast.

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Sales were low for Don Q and better, but still low, for La Bayadere. And yet the prices keep going up.

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Yes, ABT has gotten out of control with price increases. There is a week night performance I was considering going to in early July. They have raised the price in the balcony from $46 to $55, even though they have barely sold any seats in the balcony. It seems that the price increases are not "dynamically" based on the number of tickets sold (ie, prices for popular shows increase). It just seems like they raised all prices in certain sections irrespective of whether they are selling badly or well. It's not that I cannot afford the extra few dollars, but it bothers me because I feel like I'm being nickeled and dimed by ABT.

Added: I ran into a friend last week who bought a standing room ticket, and he told me that they had raised those prices too.

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Yes, ABT has gotten out of control with price increases. There is a week night performance I was considering going to in early July. They have raised the price in the balcony from $46 to $55, even though they have barely sold any seats in the balcony. It seems that the price increases are not "dynamically" based on the number of tickets sold (ie, prices for popular shows increase). It just seems like they raised all prices in certain sections irrespective of whether they are selling badly or well. It's not that I cannot afford the extra few dollars, but it bothers me because I feel like I'm being nickeled and dimed by ABT.

Added: I ran into a friend last week who bought a standing room ticket, and he told me that they had raised those prices too.

It is also strange to me that they don't offer atrium discount tickets like NYCB, the Phil and even Act One now playing does. Why not?

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Yes, ABT has gotten out of control with price increases. There is a week night performance I was considering going to in early July. They have raised the price in the balcony from $46 to $55, even though they have barely sold any seats in the balcony. It seems that the price increases are not "dynamically" based on the number of tickets sold (ie, prices for popular shows increase). It just seems like they raised all prices in certain sections irrespective of whether they are selling badly or well. It's not that I cannot afford the extra few dollars, but it bothers me because I feel like I'm being nickeled and dimed by ABT.

Added: I ran into a friend last week who bought a standing room ticket, and he told me that they had raised those prices too.

It is also strange to me that they don't offer atrium discount tickets like NYCB, the Phil and even Act One now playing does. Why not?

If I'm not mistaken, I believe that it is the policy of the Met Opera House not to offer atrium tickets, not ABT's...

I wonder if perhaps they have raised the ticket price so dramatically to make up for the lost revenue from the poorly-sold weeks...?

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At NYCB, you can get decent seats for $25 in the orchestra section (to the extreme right or left side). At ABT, similar seats--with even poorer views--go for $109. ABT also blocked out many dates for its 18-29 club subscription because it would rather have empty seats than sell tickets to young ballet-goers. It looks like ticket sales have been shockingly bad this season. I just checked the Hallberg/Murphy Cinderellas, and the orchestra section looks at least 50% unsold for their two evening performances. Most evening performances at ABT are about as well sold as a Monday night Sylvia.

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