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Sonja

Manon in Munich with Zelensky

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Last night Igor Zelensky guested in Munich as Des Grieux, partnered by Munich principal Lisa-Maree Cullum - some thoughts on this performance:

Personally, I have seen him better before (no comparison to the "Manon" with Darcey Bussell! - but still a lot of people around me were simply seduced by his charm - yes, there was charm, at least in some moments of the ballet.

I thought first variation could have been danced better - it was just routine, where we have been spoiled in the past by Robert Tewsley's Des Grieux who was present and in love with Manon from the first second. First pdd was ok - but first bedroom pdd I found a bit dissappointing. Both dancers are not that emotional, and there was no real rapport (at least I missed it in this pdd), so it was technically ok, but this is not what it's about, is it??

From 2nd act, either my opinion had changed or Zelensky's mood - I found it a totally different preformance. It was funny to see how the girls tried to get hold on him, how he was almost upset about Lescaut's behaviour, how he took a glass of wine away from Lescaut, saying: You have had enough! BUT this Des Grieux would have been drunk, too, so many glasses of wine/champagne? were given to him!

Very good was the second bedroom pdd, where Zelensky was again and again seduced by Lisa Cullum's charm, he switched between angry and terribly hurt.

Third act - sorry, I could not help but laughing when he tried to get past the gaoler after they had lead away Manon - Norbert Graf was obviously not expecting such energy and had to step quite a few steps forward to avoid being run over! Final pdd again was good, although I missed that special rapport - both were lost and desperate, but not so much about each other... But on the other hand, it was first time they danced together, and at the curtain calls they looked as if they enjoyed it (or they looked at least professional!)... Friday will be another performance, and I am looking forward to it!

One note to the costumes - maybe someone can help me there: First and second act Des Grieux wore costumes of the Viennese production (which we have in Munich). But in third act, he came on stage with brown vest, light brown trousers and brown boots, the final pdd without the vest. This was definitely different from what we normally have in Munich, but I cannot remember if this is London costume, or....? Any hints would be greatly appreciated!

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A quick note of appreciation for this and other excellent reviews that Sonja has posted from Germany, especially since she highlights the dramatic content of the ballet.

Sonja, you have a real gift for making the reader (at least this reader) have a feeling of "being there" in your reviews.

Please keep it up.

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"Happy are the fiery natures which burn themselves out,

and glory in the sword which wears away the scabbard:

CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS

Writing of Pauline Viardot

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Hi Ed,

thanks for your encouraging words - sometimes I am worried I may not hit the right tone - but (referring to an earlier discussion) I simply love to share my memories. Plus writing helps me to "get over" the evening and to be open again for new impressions. If anyone reads it or even enjoys reading - the better! Thanks again!

Sonja

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Sonja -

I certainly appreciate your reviews, and I think it's fascinating that you use them as you said! I've always written to keep a record of what I saw, but never to "clean the slate" as it were! Do other Ballet Talkers do this as well?

------------------

Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I was struck by Sonja's "clear the slate" comment as well. I've had a similar feeling about writing, that it's an "information dump." It is a way of clearing out the details -- once they're down on paper, you don't have to remember them any more, but can just hold the big picture, or the conclusions, in the mind.

(And we're very glad of your slate clearings, Sonja. It's wonderful to have so many reviews -- and such detailed ones -- of performances in Europe. Your posts certainly enrich the board.)

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The same with the choreography. You just clear your mind and get rid of this music, so you can go futher.

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A note on what I found in the newspaper today (but had forgotten to report!): The performance started about 20 minutes late, and I was already wondering as I did not consider neither Cullum nor Zelensky the type of partner who would go through lifts again and again just before the performance...

Today I read in the newspaper that Zelensky had to be back in Moscow on Monday, and that his return flight on Tuesday was that much delayed that it became unsure if he would make it at all for the performance!!

Chapeau, Mr Zelensky - for that even the first act was really good - and chapeau also to Lisa-Maree Cullum who has shown no nervs at all!!

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Just a quick note to add we seem to have been REALLY lucky in Munich - Friday's performance of "Manon" was again totally different from Tuesday. Zelensky was "there" from the first step he set on stage, and he seemed to enjoy himself! There was a rapport between him and Lisa-Maree Cullum, they got along well togethre - and he showed those beautiful arabeques I had been looking for...!

I realized (maybe only with this cast?) I have a new favourite pdd - the second bedroom pdd! There was so much acting, such a tension - different from first bedroom pdd where it is all happiness and passion and different from final pdd where it's all despair.

Another detail (that may have added to my happiness) was a cast change of Lescaut - Kirill Melnikov was injured, and Alen Bottaini took over. (Those who read this board regularly will know he's one of my favourites in Munich...) He was a better "team" with Lisa-Maree Cullum - and when drunk, he acted so much that he almost fell from his chair - so Zelensky in last second caught him. I felt that after that moment, they had a good laugh together!

I feel sorry we won't see this cast here in Munich any more - it was a very pleasant and memorable evening!

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