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Royal Ballet: Manon, autumn 2019


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7 minutes ago, bridiem said:

I think Campbell's line is immaculate; he doesn't have long limbs but he uses them with poetry, intelligence and musicality. He dances ballet as it should be danced, so the choreography (if it's good!) sings as it should. He gives full value to every step, every turn, every lift, and every element of the story. And his technique and strength are impeccable. Not everyone can be Muntagirov (for example); but Campbell is just as capable of producing balletic beauty with a different kind of body and a different kind of personality. I feel so blessed to be able to see both of them (and so many other wonderful dancers).


Absolutely. In technique, partnering, characterisation (the self abnegation chez Madame, the fury in the bracelet duet, the devastation at the end), he moved me very deeply and whilst he may not have the long limbs others cite,  I thought his ability to match his physicality to the demands of that first solo in such an immaculate way and always with such vividness of character and nuance was absolutely outstanding. 

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Firstly, I want to say how much I appreciated Matthew Ball on Thursday evening. He was very believable Des Grieux (even though he somewhat over-emoted when standing at the side of the stage in Act 2) and his dancing seems to have acquired a new softness which suited the character's youth very well. Unfortunately, for me, it felt as if his was a 'solo performance'. I couldn't read any chemistry between him and Lauren Cuthbertson and neither she, Lescaut, nor the Mistress registered much where I was sitting ....until the very end when, near to death, this Manon suddenly exuded impressive life and real drama.

 

This afternoon (Sat, 19th Oct.) was an altogether different story with truly stellar performances from Francesca Hayward and Cesar Corrales. Both have a magic aura about them as artists and an ability to inhabit their characters completely and believably. Hayward has deepened her interpretation still further in such a way as to demonstrate the conflict within and the range of Manon's emotions even more clearly, but still naturally. Corrales was the personification of the wheeling and dealing rogue who gets away with it (for the most part) because he has charisma in spades. I have not seen this from a Lescaut in years and I loved him for it. His Act 1 solo was very stylish too.

Alastair Campbell is not quite 'up there in the dancing heavens' but he was a really impeccable Des Grieux in every sense: very well executed solos, deft and supportive partnering and a true sense of who he was and what Des Grieux was going through at every stage. His gestures and body do not always 'speak' to me as some other dancers' do but I think that, on the basis of today's showing, he merits a lot of praise - and I am quite surprised to read some of the contrary appraisals above. I truly believe that this was the best performance that I have ever seen him give.

So thank you Frankie, Cesar and Alex (and the Company) for an experience to savour. It will go down as something very special in my memory.

 

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I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading the latest tranche of reviews of following this afternoon's matinee, particularly in respect of Alexander Campbell's performance. 

Some posters, and I abbreviate and paraphrase describe Campbell's performance as 'two dimensional' whilst others say he was 'immaculate'. 

I assume both views are mutually exclusive or were some posters at different performances?

Edited by RobR
Grammar
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6 minutes ago, capybara said:

Alastair Campbell

 

???!!!

 

I do hope we will eventually get to see James Hay as Des Grieux, as someone mentioned overleaf, although I realise that the casting options will be rather limited.

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14 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

I felt the cast had a holistic feel about it so all the parts worked as a whole.

 

I agree with that. I thought today's cast was the best as a whole of the 4 I've seen so far, although there have been individual performances in the other casts as good. I found myself wishing that there had been a cinecast in the run & that this cast had been given it because it seems a shame that such excellent isn't going to be preserved.

 

Hayward really must be pretty near perfection as Manon, as she was as Juliet. Equally convincing as ingenue, courtesan & fallen woman dying in despair.

 

While I agree with the comments that Campbell cannot achieve the lines that Muntagirov or Ball do, I thought his dancing was just as good in its own terms & I found his acting very good.

 

Corrales, well, I've already raved about him on the previous page so just insert another rave here! An incredible performance, especially for a role debut. Magri likewise made a very good debut as his Mistress. I'm looking forward to seeing them opposite each other in Coppelia as I thought they had very good chemistry together.

 

After seeing Whitehead as the Gaoler on Thursday & as G.M. today I'm not sure which role I prefer him in, as he's equally repulsive as both characters!

 

I've realised that today is the first anniversary of my first seeing the RB live, in Mayerling. A performance that also included Campbell, Hayward & Corrales among the cast. In the intervening year I reckon I must have seen approaching 20 RB performances - it's awfully addictive!

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50 minutes ago, bridiem said:

And Campbell showed me for the first time the moment that Des Grieux assents to 'help' Lescaut at the end of Act I - normally all I ever see is Lescaut twisting his arm and Des Grieux struggling bitterly. I always assumed the assent came between the acts, but this time Campbell nodded desperately and therefore took the story forward as it should.

 

Oh yes, I noticed that too for the first time (in fact I don't even remember Campbell doing it at the dress rehearsal, though as I was sitting further away then I might have missed it.) & thought it made the ending the the act even more dramatic & heart-breaking than it usually is.

 

11 minutes ago, capybara said:

Firstly, I want to say how much I appreciated Matthew Ball on Thursday evening. He was very believable Des Grieux (even though he somewhat over-emoted when standing at the side of the stage in Act 2) and his dancing seems to have acquired a new softness which suited the character's youth very well. Unfortunately, for me, it felt as if his was a 'solo performance'. I couldn't read any chemistry between him and Lauren Cuthbertson and neither she, Lescaut, nor the Mistress registered much where I was sitting ....until the very end when, near to death, this Manon suddenly exuded impressive life and real drama.

 

I just want to agree with this. I thought Ball was fabulous on Thursday but the rest of the lead cast weren't at the same level. I was very pleased, when stage dooring after today's performance, to also see Ball exiting so I was able to thank him only a couple of days late.

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Saw it today. Missed first act due to Marylebone fire and things but as an added bonus Sambe was on the platform at Covent Garden getting on the train as I got off.

 

A wonderful performance from all today. I have seen Hayward's Manon before and she was born to do. She was wonderful with Campbell as per usual and the two just emote something together which makes you buy into everything they do. Audience adored them. Cesar made a wonderful brother and was great with his mistress. All round a great performance. Ending  was powerful.

Edited by Shya100
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17 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I've realised that today is the first anniversary of my first seeing the RB live, in Mayerling. A performance that also included Campbell, Hayward & Corrales among the cast. In the intervening year I reckon I must have seen approaching 20 RB performances - it's awfully addictive!

 

It is indeed! Happy anniversary, Dawnstar, and thank you so much for sharing your impressions on the forum in the last year.

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49 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

Well quite.  I though he was absolutely perfect in every way and I speak as someone who has, on occasion, been critical of Campbell.  Yes, he was an entirely safe pair of hands today and you could see that Francesca had complete trust in him.  But he was much more than that;  I believed in his love for Manon which was an all embracingTill Death us Do Part kind of love and the more heartfelt for it.  Core ales had the role of showman tonight - corrupt, venal and weak - which meant Campbell’s portrayal of De Grieux was a sharp contrast.  I felt the. cast had a holistic feel about it so all the parts worked as a whole.

 

To be honest, I believe in Hayward and Campbell's love for eachother everytime they step on stage together. It just works for them and I am sure is a combination of hardwork, physical compatibility, mutual respect and  affection and luck. Of course it could all be by chance and they really cannot abide working together. And that is what makes any couple who perform together and have 'chemistry' magical because you cannot create through will, you can't pinpoint it. It just is.

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Lovely post Shiya.  Comparisons are not always appropriate and I appreciate everybodys views even if I don’t share them BUT to those questioning Campbell’s technical competence today, I can only guess that they haven’t see Halberg....

 

i thought this was far and away Campbell’s best performance to date, right up there with his Oberon.  I believed in him, felt the pain of his love and the conflict with Lescaut.  Whilst Muntagirov may have godlike status on this forum for his astounding technique and the sheer beauty of his lines, there are times when I want something a little more earthy, more real, more approachable and Campbell gave us that today, his performance shining even more brightly because of the wonderful contrast with Lescaut as executed by Corrales.

 

For me the only dancer with the whole package of the type that kicks me in the gut and makes me shiver, is Ball.

 

 

Edited by penelopesimpson
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The performance’s  in today’s matinee were truly wonderful. I was standing in the stalls circle today and witnessed Francesca’s total absorption in the character of Manon. Normally in the amphi where facial expressions are beyond my eyesight I could see her happiness, sadness and all inbetween emotions on display,  Of course the dancing was just wonderful, Alexander really looked after Francesca even when he was throwing her about and Cesar played a fantastic drunk. All the smaller roles have their parts to play in making up the whole which they all did beautifully. I didn’t think of Brexit once, thank goodness. 

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12 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

BUT to those questioning Campbell’s technical competence today, I can only guess that they haven’t see Hallberg....

 

Ouch! I nearly said something similar but lost my nerve!!!!

The performances from the 'home team' this week have served to emphasise Hallberg's weaknesses and it will be interesting to hear what people on here who are 'doing the double' today have to say.

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24 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

Ouch! I nearly said something similar but lost my nerve!!!!

The performances from the 'home team' this week have served to emphasise Hallberg's weaknesses and it will be interesting to hear what people on here who are 'doing the double' today have to say.

 

All art is subjective and sometimes its really hard to be mindful of that. Sometimes dancers are seen as direct competition to people's favourites and I think that causes strife.  Because you know they are really, for publicity and opportunities and things but it is unfortunate. Seen Hallberg with Osipova. He was fine and she trusts and wants him to partner her and you know maybe that personal trust and partnership is the most important thing. I can't say that I always feel that Osipovas style compliments well with the others in the RB but she is so well known that those issues are probably long past caring about.

Edited by Shya100
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1 hour ago, capybara said:

Alastair Campbell is not quite 'up there in the dancing heavens'

 

On my first trip to see the RB last year I saw Alexander Campbell as Lescaut....on my second I saw Alastair Campbell in the foyer.....or was it the other way round?

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

Oh yes, I noticed that too for the first time (in fact I don't even remember Campbell doing it at the dress rehearsal, though as I was sitting further away then I might have missed it.) & thought it made the ending the the act even more dramatic & heart-breaking than it usually is.

 

They *should* all be doing it.

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Since no-one else thus far has posted curtain call photos from this afternoon here are a few of mine. Not entirely successful (I seem to find it harder to take curtain call pics from the stalls than stalls circle, don't know why) so if anyone else is going to post any better ones let me know & I'll remove mine.

 

 

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31 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

I thought you were just enthusiastic!


what can one write? I’ll be vilified. 

 

He may not be the dancer he was before his injury (I didn’t see him live then).
 

His presence, musicality and residual technique are jaw dropping. His partnering tonight may not have had Alexander Campbell’s aplomb but nothing was shirked.


a great artist is always that and it was, sorry Penelope Simpson, a privilege to see him.

 

 

 

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I think that yesterday's  Manon matinee cements the pairing of Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell as one of the RB's best, at present, for any ballet.

For me this was so much more believable than Nunez/Bolle and (probably) Takada/McRae (although it is perhaps unfair to form a view about a performance horribly interrupted by injury).  In both the latter pairings I do feel the problem was with the gentleman rather than the lady.  For example  Takada herself is a fantastic Manon and I remember how well the pairing between her and Campbell worked last year. 

In fact whenever I have seen Campbell he has been a particularly good partner for whichever lady he is supporting. He set the standard yesterday (as in fact he had done at the General Rehearsal) with the first Act solo - so expressive, lyrical, and heartfelt, backed by  a wonderfully strong, subtle and controlled technique. The subsequent PDDs between him and Hayward represented some of the most beautiful ballet I have yet to see.

I find myself in danger of rather taking for granted the level of performance that Francesca Hayward now brings to each ballet. She is such a fantastic performer that dancing for her seems just her natural state of being - her technique is so sound,  flowing and beautiful that I don't tend to notice it as such, I only  see her as the character she is portraying (if that makes sense). A true star and one of the RB's current treasures!

Finally I fully agree with the plaudits for Corrales. He was a suitably conniving, shifty, money-grubbing, Lescaut, but it was his amazing panache, timing, comedy,  leaps, spins and speed in the drunken dancing that stood out for me. The best Lescaut yet IMHO.  

 

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What a wonderful performance from all the dancers at yesterday's Manon. It will long remain in my memory! Francesca was so beautiful & Alexander's partnering skills brilliant. I was sitting in the stalls circle, near the stage & Alexander seemed so distraught as Manon died. Corrales was a fantastic Lescaut. Those, jumps & turns & perfect landings! Magri was great too. Loved it, although I had a dreadful time getting to the Opera House. However, when the ballet started I was transported & forgot my stress.

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43 minutes ago, Sim said:

Any other reports on last night’s Manon please?  

 

 I couldn’t make last night but can offer a comment from the person who took my ticket. She, no Osipova fan incidentally, said that her principle reason for not liking Osipova’s Manon has been the sense that her Manon is too knowing from the outset, too calculating, too strong in fact, with the result that the pressures on her, so clearly spelled out by MacMillan, have less dramatic impact. However that was apparently not so last night, Osipova giving what she called a far more nuanced portrayal and indeed winning her over. 

 

Can’t judge, of course, but I would say this is another piece of evidence to suggest that Osipova is always worth watching as her interpretations rarely stand still. 

 

Edited by Geoff
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Double Manon yesterday and I’m delighted to read so many effusive comments about the matinee performance.  The quality of the entire cast made this one of those very special performances where it’s such a privilege to attend (a bit like the fabulous Romeo & Juliet Corrales/Hayward cast which was so well matched).

 

Much to admire in the evening - particularly Osipova’s Act 2 solo.  But I don’t quite get the journey her Manon takes as Osipova seems too knowing from the outset.  Hirano was very good but I find his drunk scene a bit too over the top.  A lot of Hallberg’s dancing was very fine, particularly the solos, but I thought there was an unsteadiness at times and more tellingly some of the partnering didn’t have that security and assurance that Campbell displayed earlier (Act 3 particularly).  And I’m afraid I was often wondering what Hallberg was doing on stage in various scenes when not dancing and when he seemed a bit aimless to me.

 

Look forward to reading others’ posts. 

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