ord7916

Manon

76 posts in this topic

I know MacMillan's widow is very vigilant about his ballets being performed intact but I always think the prostitutes' dancing (in every act) could be trimmed by a few minutes and no one would notice or care.

Share this post


Link to post

So I had tickets to see Polina Semionova in Saturday night's performance of Manon, and I kept reading on Ballet Alert how amazing Diana Vishneva is in the role, and I thought, "Oh well, it's the luck of the draw when you buy tickets that far in advance." As things turned out, I thought Semionova was absolutely amazing in the role. I can't speak to Vishneva's performance, of course, not having seen it, but I have no regrets whatsoever that I was fortunate enough to see Semionova in the role. It wasn't that she was technically impressive, although there was certainly no fault to be found there, as far as I could see. It was rather that I have rarely seen a dancer who is as incredibly effective in expressing the emotions and the thoughts of the character through movement, especially in the Act I pas de deux and especially especially during Act II when she's dancing in between Des Grieux and G.M. (both alone and with the male corps). Watching the latter was one of those transcendent times which made me fall in love with ballet.

Cory Stearns danced Des Grieux. He was fine, if a little unsteady at times. James Whiteside and Veronika Part were also fine as Lescaut and his Mistress.

Lescaut's drunk dance worked well; I literally laughed out loud at one point.

There were a lot of empty seats. If I had to guess I'd say the Met was 80% full.

The sets and costumes were OK, except that I thought Manon's and Lescaut's Mistress's costumes in the second act were too similar.

I understand that final bows are always in the last costume, but I thought it was a shame that whoever dances Manon has to take her final bows in her one-foot-in-the-grave costume and makeup.

So, anyway, Polina Semionova is now one of my favorite dancers. Discovering her was especially wonderful since when I went to the Met Saturday night I was expecting just a nice evening and not one of my best ballet experiences yet, which is what I got instead, thanks to Ms. Semionova.

Share this post


Link to post

I was also at the Saturday matinee and it was just as magical as everyone has posted.

MacMillan’s ‘Manon’ only works if the dancers become the characters, especially the dancers performing the roles of Manon and Des Grieux. This is definitely the case when Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes take on the roles Saturday afternoon. Their acting is so real, so natural. At the start of the ballet Manon is a young girl who has grown up both poor and ashamed of her poverty. She soon, however, reveals her attraction to all things money can buy. Vishneva’s dancing shows clearly how Manon is transformed for an innocent girl to a seductive courtesan. She also reveals how Manon is trapped between her love for Des Grieux and her love of luxury. In Act III Vishneva’s Manon is a broken woman who is redeemed by De Grieux’s devotion. This allows Manon to die in peace.

Gomes’ DesGrieux is a naïve young student whose life takes a dark turn when he falls for the young courtesan. Through both his dancing and acting, Gomes displays Des Grieux’s joyous love for Manon in Act I. When Manon leaves him for G.M., Gomes’ pain is heartbreaking. He will do anything to win Manon back, including cheating at cards. (Among 18th century gentlemen murder was excused. Cheating at cards was not.) At the end of the ballet, when Manon dies in his arms, Gomes’ Des Grieux’s despair is so palpable that the tears are running down my cheeks.

As fantastic as Vishneva and Gomes are separately, together they set the Metropolitan Opera House alight. They are such a perfect twosome that their images from ’Manon’ are forever engraved in my mind’s eye. Their passion even continues in the bows where Vishneva is honored for her ten years of dancing with American Ballet Theatre.

Other performers stand out too. Herman Cornejo is a wonderfully sleazy Lescaut. His dancing is thrilling with Cornejo performing lightning quick turns and pas chats, where Cornejo springs into the air like a cat. He is very funny in the Act II soiree as an obviously drunk Lescaut’s dancing is both bravura and off-center. He is even funnier when he dances with his mistress who is performed by Misty Copeland. It must be difficult for such a great dancer to perform so badly.

Copeland’s mistress is wonderfully done. Both her dancing and her acting are first-rate. Victor Barbee’s characterization of Monsieur G.M. is a powerful one. As the Louisiana jailer Roman Zhurbin adds another rich portrayal to his already vast arsenal. All the characters in the ballet are extremely memorable – from courtesans and gentlemen to the beggars in the courtyard. ABT’s production of ‘Manon’ is a fantastic one which I hope they dance for years to come.

Share this post


Link to post

I'd be happy with two MacMillan's in one season, but I'm a sucker for the "passion play ballets".

Share this post


Link to post

I only recall them doing two MacMillans during a single season around the time that Ferri retired. The only two ballets that remained in her rep at that point were R&J and Manon.

I was also at the Sat. evening performance, and it was less than 50% full in the balcony. The performance was a real let down compared to the afternoon.

Share this post


Link to post

I have mixed feeling about Misty Copeland. If she brings in a new audience great, at the same time one hopes that the people she brings in get hooked and return even if she isn't dancing. I don't know if that is the case.

The novelty of seeing a black woman dancing prominent ballet roles may draw in some new audience members, but it's the quality and entertainment value of those productions that will keep them coming back.

In this, black audiences are no different than any other people.

Share this post


Link to post

ABT experimented with the full-length "Anastasia" over fifteen years ago when MacMillan specialist/muses Viviana Durante and Alessandra Ferri were both dancing with the company (Durante was a guest when that was unusual for ABT). It was not a success. ABT has wisely passed on mounting "Mayerling" (done by the Royal Ballet on tour in NYC - I saw it 20 years ago with Mukhamedov. It works better on video than live). They also blessedly have ignored "Winter Dreams" and "The Prince of the Pagodas". I don't know "Isadora" - it might make a nice vehicle for Diana or Julie if it is done in the one-act reduction. Please don't ask me about "The Judas Tree". Do not go there...

I heard good things about "The Invitation" where Lynn Seymour gave a shattering dance theater performance. "Song of the Earth" "Requiem" and "Concerto" sound interesting. Then of course we have the other long skirt "passion play" ballets by Cranko, Ashton, Neumeier and lesser lights.

Share this post


Link to post

I heard good things about "The Invitation" where Lynn Seymour gave a shattering dance theater performance. "Song of the Earth" "Requiem" and "Concerto" sound interesting. Then of course we have the other long skirt "passion play" ballets by Cranko, Ashton, Neumeier and lesser lights.

Interesting suggestions -- though I would put Ashton in a completely different category than the other choreographers you mention, and am always happy to see ABT mount Ashton ballets. I actually rather admire Dame aux Camelias, but for the most part -- like Vipa above -- I am not an admirer of the Cranko-Macmillan nexus of full length story ballets. If I lived in NY, then I might come to see a Vishneva Manon or Onegin (and the performances she has given this season do sound thrilling), but I have only once ever opted for a trip that was organized around one of these ballets (a weekend with both Vishneva and Osipova in Romeo and Juliet supplemented by Liebeslieder Walzer at NYCB). Cranko's full lengths I find even duller than Macmillan's.

Still, I do take Macmillan seriously, and returning to Faux Pas's suggestions, I would rather see Song of the Earth or Requiem than Manon or Romeo and Juliet--they belong to very different genres. I remember Concerto as much lesser. I have also always been curious about the Invitation (another narrative ballet in a historical setting, though not full length), but always assumed it was not revivable--certainly to revive it one would need a very substantial dance-actress...

If ABT wants a new full length story ballet of the full-length "passion" variety, I would be very interested in seeing Ratmansky's Lost Illusions, but I would probably prefer they would acquire one of the one act works he has been creating for other companies that would work well at Met (perhaps Psyche which he created for POB) and include it in an additional "repertory" program during the Met season.

All that said, it has been very enjoyable reading about these performances of Manon. Thanks to everyone for posting.

Share this post


Link to post

I heard good things about "The Invitation" where Lynn Seymour gave a shattering dance theater performance.

I have also always been curious about the Invitation (another narrative ballet in a historical setting, though not full length), but always assumed it was not revivable--certainly to revive it one would need a very substantial dance-actress...

According to this website the "Invitation" choreography was notated in Benesh notation and there is some film of it. Lynn Seymour is alive and could coach it. You need a ballerina with a combination of innocence and emotional ferocity - Natalia Osipova? Cojocaru?

http://www.kennethmacmillan.com/ballets/all-works/1960-1966/the-invitation.html

Share this post


Link to post

I wonder if anyone has seen Rolland Petit's Proust - Skips Between Heartbeats,

since the book is from an age of passion I am curious about this ballet and the films on

youtube are interesting.

Share this post


Link to post

here is the NYPL dance cat. listing for the Petit work.

it's been shown in new york, a while ago and excerpts have been sometimes performed.

Intermittences du coeur: Chor: Roland Petit; mus: Act I: Hahn (L'Heure exquise), Franck (Sonata for vln & pf, 1st mvt), Fauré (excerpts from Ballade), Saint-Saëns (Harp concerto, 1st mvt), Debussy (La mer, Syrinx), Franck (Psyché excerpt), Saint-Saëns (Symphony no. 3, excerpts); Act II: Beethoven (Quartet, op. 131, "Presto"), Saint-Saëns (Havanaise, Marche héroïque), Debussy (Danse infernale), Fauré (Elégie), Wagner (Overture to Rienzi); lib: After Marcel Proust's Remembrances of things past. First perf: Monaco Festival of the Arts, Aug 24, 1974; Ballets de Marseille.//First perf. in Paris: Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Nov 14, 1974; Ballets de Marseille.//U.S. premiere: New York, Uris Theater, Sept 12, 1980; Ballets de Marseille; scen: René Allio; cos: Christine Laurent.

Share this post


Link to post

I have seen the Petit--I remember finding it not uninteresting, but little else about it. I would not be keen on seeing ABT revive it.

Faux Pas: Perhaps Cojocaru or Osipova could be interesting in "The Invitation" if it is, indeed, revivable. (Not clear Osipova has any future with ABT these days and in some ways it might even be more appropriate for the Royal to revive it.)

Share this post


Link to post

There is a DVD available for Petit's Proust, Intermittence Le Coeur, performed by Paris Opera Ballet. It is a beautiful work and I

like this work very much, but a very French work and I doubt ABT's audience will like it. There is some nudity in this work. The male duet is frequently performed at galas, and Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg has performed that part in galas.

MacMillan's Invitation is a powerful piece (I also have seen it in full) but this ballet has a violent rape scene of an adolescent girl and I doubt it will be acceptable for the ABT audience too.

Share this post


Link to post

Diana Vishneva with Marcelo Gomes. Magnificent, soul-stirring connection. He mastered several sequences of long, slow turns, every inch of legs and body in elegantly held tension. At the "party", her heart-crushing coldness as she repeatedly looked directly at and through him, then blankly turned away. She really is a whore, I thought. Interesting suggestion of rape by the jailer while he knelt and dragged her leg underneath one thigh to just momentarily make that horrible connection. In the swamp, their final series of three death-defying lifts -- Marcelo tossing her into frightenly high, complicated turns -- that peaked with her death midair. What a face! What a death! Wow. I've never seen such a dangerously athletic, trusting partnership in dance. I flew out from San Francisco just to see this performance. I bow to you, Vaganova Ballet Academy, for the privilege of seeing your dancers: Nureyev, Makarova, and Vishneva.

Share this post


Link to post

Not quite sure whether this is the right place to post, but is this performance available on video anywhere? Will Vishneva repeat this role stateside (or perhaps in London), does anyone know? One my greatest regrets this summer was missing this piece (I was traveling and working and not in nyc during May or June). I will not make the same mistake twice! All I have are a few youtube clips of Vishneva's Manon, and they are magical.

Share this post


Link to post

Not quite sure whether this is the right place to post, but is this performance available on video anywhere? Will Vishneva repeat this role stateside (or perhaps in London), does anyone know? One my greatest regrets this summer was missing this piece (I was traveling and working and not in nyc during May or June). I will not make the same mistake twice! All I have are a few youtube clips of Vishneva's Manon, and they are magical.

I doubt it will be available on video, as ABT hasn't produced any commercial recordings since it's 2005 Swan Lake. Also, amateur ABT videos don't tend to show up on YouTube (with the exception of curtain calls.) However, I believe ABT films about three performances a year for the archives, which are held by NYPL's Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. The last time I used those collections, which was almost a decade ago, you needed to send a letter to ABT and get written permission to access their archival videos. I wouldn't be surprised if the process has been streamlined, but it's good to keep in mind that you might not be able to show up and watch any ABT video on the spot. Also, I assume all of their archival videos would be filmed from a single vantage point, so you wouldn't have the production values of a commercial DVD.

ABT often does the same production two years in a row before letting it rest for a while, so it seems plausible they would bring back Manon next year. However, I don't know if the non-Vishneva nights sold well, so who knows. I don't think they would bring back Manon without Vishneva, so if they do Manon next year, you can pretty much count on her dancing it. Also, it's one of the few roles that the technically limited Julie Kent can still dance, so if next year ends up being her retirement year, it seems likely they would bring back Manon (or they may opt for one of the other silk skirt dramas, like Onegin or Lady of the Camellias).

Share this post


Link to post

However, I believe ABT films about three performances a year for the archives, which are held by NYPL's Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center. The last time I used those collections, which was almost a decade ago, you needed to send a letter to ABT and get written permission to access their archival videos. I wouldn't be surprised if the process has been streamlined, but it's good to keep in mind that you might not be able to show up and watch any ABT video on the spot. Also, I assume all of their archival videos would be filmed from a single vantage point, so you wouldn't have the production values of a commercial DVD.

I looked at some ABT archival tapes just last month (July 2014) - a mixed bill with Prodigal Son (with Cornejo), On the Dnieper (with Hallberg and Gomes), and Desir, taped in 2009 in performance at the Met. I remember thinking that it was good enough to show on PBS, especially given the dearth of ABT recordings available there. No advance request was necessary. I did need a NYPL library card, but you can get that on the spot at the information desk at the 3rd floor research room, where the videos are located. You need to show photo ID, but do not need to be a resident of NY. You then fill out a form for the video you want to see. I brought along a print-out from the catalog so I had all the catalog numbers they need.

The credits say the recording was made possible by The Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image, NYPL. You might search their catalog on-line to see what else they have.

As I've said ad nauseum, I'm glad they are making these recordings for posterity, but deeply regret that they don't have the permissions needed to show them on PBS, let alone sell them on DVD.

Share this post


Link to post

I just took a look at the Dance collection catalog and found a recording of Manon I plan to see next time I'm in New York: Ferri, Bolle, Cornejo, and Murphy, taped in performance at the Met June 14, 2007:

http://catalog.nypl.org/search~S99?/tmanon/tmanon/1%2C17%2C44%2CB/frameset&FF=tmanon+ballet+in+three+acts&1%2C1%2C

Would that have been her retirement year? performance?

They have several other recordings of Manon, but I don't find Vishneva (other than clips).

I have the DVDs of two Royal Ballet casts: Penney and Dowell (taped in 1982) and Rojo and Acosta (taped in 2008). Both are excellent.

Share this post


Link to post

The Robbins documentary narration says that he donated his royalties from "Fiddler on the Roof" to the NYPB to support the dance archives.

Share this post


Link to post

The Robbins documentary narration says that he donated his royalties from "Fiddler on the Roof" to the NYPB to support the dance archives.

And we are all very grateful! (NPR reminded listeners today that it's the 50th anniversary of the show)

Share this post


Link to post

silk skirt dramas

Oh, I like that term!

Share this post


Link to post

The credits say the recording was made possible by The Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image, NYPL. You might search their catalog on-line to see what else they have.

Just make sure to carve out some time -- the catalog is massive!

Share this post


Link to post

California wrote: I just took a look at the Dance collection catalog and found a recording of Manon I plan to see next time I'm in New York: Ferri, Bolle, Cornejo, and Murphy, taped in performance at the Met June 14, 2007...Would that have been her retirement year? Performance?

(The quote function on this forum no longer works for me, thus the paraphrasing.)

Allesandra Ferri did indeed retire from ABT in the spring, 2007, but her final performance was in Romeo & Juliet the week after Manon. I attended an open dress rehearsal in which she participated on June 18th of that year.

Share this post


Link to post

(The quote function on this forum no longer works for me, thus the paraphrasing.)

Allesandra Ferri did indeed retire from ABT in the spring, 2007, but her final performance was in Romeo & Juliet the week after Manon. I attended an open dress rehearsal in which she participated on June 18th of that year.

Now I really want to look at that tape! I had heard the audience was in tears at her final Manon, and this sounds like it (or close).

The quote function does not work for me in Explorer 8, but does work in Chrome. I have no idea why...

Share this post


Link to post

(The quote function on this forum no longer works for me, thus the paraphrasing.)

Allesandra Ferri did indeed retire from ABT in the spring, 2007, but her final performance was in Romeo & Juliet the week after Manon. I attended an open dress rehearsal in which she participated on June 18th of that year.

Now I really want to look at that tape! I had heard the audience was in tears at her final Manon, and this sounds like it (or close).

The quote function does not work for me in Explorer 8, but does work in Chrome. I have no idea why...

I remember that in her retirement year Ferri filled in for an injured Reyes in Manon, so her official final Manon may have ended up being her penultimate Manon, or something like that. In any case, I remember she ended up dancing two Manons in quick succession and I'm not sure which date was her final-final. This is when it would be great for ABT to have an online archive of performances like the Met! So many times I can't remember who exactly danced when, but thank goodness for these forums!

p.s. It's great to hear that ABT now has an open access policy for its archival videos. I think Ananiashvili's retirement SL was recorded, and I'd love to relive the thrill of that night.

Share this post


Link to post