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"Manon" in Munich


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#1 Sonja

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Posted 18 December 2000 - 09:33 AM

Tomorrow, Munich will (FINALLY!) see the premiere of "Manon" - ust a short note from today's dress rehearsal (I've just rushed back to work):

Cast
Manon was Elena Pankova - the Manon of our B-premiere, partnered by Robert Tewsley as guest from Stuttgart. She was not naive at all, but a very tricky girl, hungry for luxury and wealth. Robert Tewsley has beautiful arabesques, and the pas de deux went quite well (with some corrections, but it was only a rehearsal!) - I believe it is first time they dance together, so I hope they will develop an even better rapport. To be very honest, for the first time I did not leave the theatre in tears - but to be even more honest, the Manons I have seen in London so far were Viviana Durante, Sarah Wildor and Darcey Bussell...
Lescaut and his mistress were Alen Bottaini and Maria Eichwald - they have danced a lot together, and they were really good. At end of first act, I really HATED this Lescaut - he was so convincing!

Settings and costumes
I knew only the ones from London (last time I saw this ballet there was Easter 2000) - Munich looked quite different: Especially in first act, Manon's and Des Grieux's costumes looked more ice-blue and white - quite a contrast to the dominant brown and beige of the rest. They look like a very different couple, not fitting in the world surrounding them, I found.
Lescaut's mistress doesn't have to wear that "special" wig - she looks more natural that way.
Madame's "girls" - some of them wear white (!) dresses, with only a little bit of colour - a strange contrast to the five girls in first act - it makes the whole scene look quite bright...
Settings looked different to me, too - but I am not able to pick out a lot of details (yet), sorry!
I read somewhere Munich now has costumes and settings from a VIENNESE production dating back to 1993 - I would love to hear comments from people who know "Manon" in Vienna! As far as I know, it's still "on" there - so what settings/costumes are used there now??

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be the A-premiere - I will try to write a more detailed report then!

#2 Sonja

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 03:05 AM

Please see also the "links" section, 19 Dec, for an article (only in German, sorry) about Robert Tewsley!

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 11:38 AM

Thanks for posting this, Sonja. It's great to be able to learn what's being danced in Germany. I remember Pankova from her days with the Kirov. I thought her a very interesting dancer, and was glad to learn what she's doing now.

#4 Ann

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 12:04 PM

Sonja
Thank you for the information about 'Manon'. I looked up the interview with Roert Tewsley which you mentioned, but the the Altavista translation service 'Babelfish' does not seem to work on this board. Alexandra, would you have any information on about this? It may of course be something I'm not doing right.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 19 December 2000 - 12:40 PM

Ann, I'm sorry, I don't. I've heard of Babelfish, but no more than that. Perhaps copying a post into a word processing document and then running Babelfish??? That's the only thing I can think of off the top of my head.

(There's nothing that comes with this software that says "does not work on Babelfish Posted Image )

#6 Sonja

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 04:49 AM

Some impressions from last night's premiere for those who might be interested in it:

Cast
Manon - Lisa-Maree Cullum; Des Grieux - Oliver Wehe; Lescaut - Kirill Melnikov; Lescaut's Mistress - Judith Turos
First of all, there are the technical difficulties every cast has to cope with. "Manon" is the first MacMillan ballet in Munich since the mid-Eighties, so all of the cast needed to familiarize with his special style - and I thought it was amazing how well they did!
Manon
In an interview, Lisa-Maree Cullum said she thought Manon was not at all a very sympathetic character, and very different from her own personality. She added she still had not found "her" Manon - but what we saw on first night I thought was very promising. At the beginning, this Manon is almost a child, innocent, timid. But when she realizes her effects on men, she makes use of them. She and Lescaut were not so much a team - this Manon can look after herself and knows very soon what she wants. But still, she remains open and sensitive for Des Grieux' real affection. This true love makes her start thinking - but then she still clings to her jewels... Technically, everything looked effortless - and at the end, this Manon is really broken (and heartbreaking!)
Des Grieux
Oliver Wehe not only has the "right look" for Des Grieux (tall, blond, handsome) - his arabesques are also beautiful, and although he is not what I would call a "bravoura dancer" it was amazing how secure his dancing was.
Between both principals there is a wonderful rapport - Lisa trusts his partner in all those tricky lifts, so they made them look "natural" even as early as in the premiere. There was no careful "extra grabbing", it was all smooth and flowing - at least that is how I regarded it, but I must admit I was swept away by their rapport and so not fully objective.

Lescaut and his mistress were good, too - very funny in the drunk scene!

And a shorte note on settings and costumes - a friend who came from Vienna recognised them instantly as from "their" production!

Tonight is the "B" premiere, with Elena Pankova and Robert Tewsley - in the meantime, I am sure they did not act fully at all on Monday (dress rehearsal), so this performance should be very interesting, too. Will report more tomorrow. And also check for links to reviews - sorry, I have no idea how the translation service works either...

#7 wjglavis

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 07:56 AM

Sounds like a great night Sonja. Thanks for posting that. Will be very interested to hear how Pankova does tonight.
-Wendy

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 20 December 2000 - 02:58 PM

Yes, please keep posting about what you're seeing Posted Image If there aren't more comments, it's only because we don't have anyone else, at least who's an active poster, who's seeing the same things you are -- but that makes us all the more eager to read about them, so I hope you'll continue to be as detailed in your writing -- it's lovely to read.

#9 Sonja

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Posted 21 December 2000 - 04:04 AM

Thanks, Wendy and Alexandra, for this encouragement!
Regarding second premiere last night - detailed report will follow later, but:
MR ROBERT TEWSLEY, I BEG A PARDON FOR WHAT I WROTE ABOUT THE DRESS REHEARSAL! Last night FULLY convinced me!

#10 Sonja

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Posted 21 December 2000 - 06:10 AM

As promised, notes on premiere II - sorry, I tried to limit myself, but when I start writing it always becomes long...

Manon - Elena Pankova; Des Grieux - Robert Tewsley; Lescaut - Alen Bottaini; Lescaut's Mistress - Maria Eichwald

Quite a different performance from the one yesterday - and from the dress rehearsal where noone obviously fully danced out!
Pankova's Manon is different from Lisa-Maree Cullum - she knows from the beginning how attractive she is - and makes use of it. She plays with everyone, even with Des Grieux's honest love. There are only very few moments when she hesitates or seems to start thinking if it is right what she is doing. She and her brother Lescaut are a team of bandits - Pankova and Bottaini have danced a lot together in the past, and there is always a nice rapport. Personally in this cast I find it also quite visible Manon and her brother seem to be "more than good friends".
Robert Tewsley IS Des Grieux - he's handsome, lovely arabesques, nice technique (those chainÚs when he crosses the stage to the dead gaoler - sizzling!) and a good partner. He seemed to be really happy to dance this role, and also to dance it with Pankova - while at the curtain calls she was almost a bit cool (as often), he looked totally happy, kissed her, put his arms around her.

A note on Lescaut and his mistress - they are a great team, too. Maria Eichwald is technically strong, light as a feather and amazingly quick on her feet, with high extensions -and she looked very very beautiful. Alen Bottaini has great fun when he is drunk - he's one of the dancers who can turn pirouettes with the upper body and head off-balance. I guess I will never understand how that works!

Lots of applause also for this cast as well. So we are happy that "Manon" has finally arrived in Munich, too - and I believe this company will do the ballet justice in their own way - not to be compared to RB or Kirov level, but still very convincing and worth a visit (or two or three or more... - if one's living here like me and cannot afford permanent trips to London, Paris, etc.!)

PS: I found one review - again in German, but have hesitated to add it here: It is in Munich's most "demanding" newspaper, but sometimes I wonder why this lady still has her job. She is always (really always) putting new ballets into pieces, praising her personal favourites but hating all of the rest. I admit that reviews always reflect a single person's opinion, but this lady I think is just terribly negative. Both premieres were not sold out - and I hope people won't be pulled off by this review! If you want to have a go anyway - [url="http://"http://www.sueddeutsche.de/aktuell/?section=feuill&myTM=full&id=977344141.25527&myTime=977396147"]http://www.sueddeutsche.de/aktuell/?sectio...yTime=977396147[/url]

#11 Ed Waffle

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Posted 21 December 2000 - 09:00 AM

Thanks for the excellent reviews, Sonja. Reading them gives a real sense of "being there".

And I don't think you should worry about your posts being too long--if anything I wish you had written more.

One thing for everyone who attends a performance, especially one that is not in NYC or Washington, is that the review posted to balletalert may be the only way that we get to read about it. So the more the better.

#12 wjglavis

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Posted 21 December 2000 - 02:57 PM

Brilliant. Thanks, Sonja.

I've watched Elena Pankova in the video of 'Corsaire' lots of time (and managed to see her dance Gulnare live once, too) and have been wondering where she was and how she was doing. Obviously, she's doing very well indeed.

Thanks again for your interesting post.
- Wendy

#13 Sonja

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Posted 22 December 2000 - 04:36 AM

Wendy, thanks for this post! There's also a video of Pankova in "Les Sylphides" (Chopiniana) that shows off how lightly she "flies" across the stage.
Merry Christmas to all of you!

#14 Sonja

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Posted 22 December 2000 - 06:18 AM

Thank goodness, a lovely review in [url="http://"http://www.muenchner-merkur.de"]www.muenchner-merkur.de[/url] - "Volltextsuche", type "Manon" - sorry, only in German... No English speaking critics seem to have been there...

#15 Sonja

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Posted 22 December 2000 - 08:24 AM

Two more links on reviews: [url="http://"http://www.sueddeutsche.de/aktuell/?section=kult.&myTM=full&id=977424957.73336&myTime=977482351"]http://www.sueddeutsche.de/aktuell/?sectio...yTime=977482351[/url]
and [url="http://"http://www.nzz.ch/2000/12/22/fe/page-article72FHO.html"]http://www.nzz.ch/2000/12/22/fe/page-article72FHO.html[/url]

Sonja


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