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In related news: hurrah, I have just secured Balcony Standing D31 for tomorrow's matinee (having not previously had a ticket for this cast). 

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6 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

Leticia Stock reprised this role on the opening night. I have also seen Gemma Pitchley-Gale dance it (and maybe Ashley Dean?).

 

4 minutes ago, Bluebird said:

 

Leticia Stock did it on Wednesday and also did most of the last run.  If I remember correctly, Ashley Dean also did a few performances last time it was on.

 

Now you mention it, I remember Ashley Dean doing it.  I don't believe I have seen Gemma Pitchley-Gale - but maybe I did at some point, given how similar she looks on stage to Elsa Godard.

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2 hours ago, Bluebird said:

 

There was also a superb debut by Sophie Allnatt as the "boy whore" in the brothel scene. She really made the most of the role.

 

I've never understood why this role isn't credited on the cast sheet. I wasn't even sure exactly what it was called and had to google to find any reference to it. I found the following description in an Australian newspaper: "a whore who dresses up as a boy for men's fantasies"

 

https://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/oh-boy-ex-brisbane-dancer-takes-on-risqu-role-in-the-australian-ballets-season-of-manon/news-story/210a600a3adb92f571204501a3d6d1ae

 

Thanks for the info! I agree she did well and stood out but I couldn’t find her on the cast sheet! 

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Does anyone know if they have done something different with the lighting this run?

 

Last night it seemed like there was a greater use of "atmospheric" coloured lighting to make the scenery more vibrant. It was quite effective in places, I thought, although on occasion I felt that the lighting was darker than I remember, some of the pas de deux for instance.

 

Looking at my cast sheets, the lighting designer for this run is Jacopo Pantani. Last run it was John B Read. Maybe a redesign?

 

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39 minutes ago, Saodan said:

Does anyone know if they have done something different with the lighting this run?

 

Last night it seemed like there was a greater use of "atmospheric" coloured lighting to make the scenery more vibrant. It was quite effective in places, I thought, although on occasion I felt that the lighting was darker than I remember, some of the pas de deux for instance.

 

Looking at my cast sheets, the lighting designer for this run is Jacopo Pantani. Last run it was John B Read. Maybe a redesign?

 

 

Yes, a new, young Italian lighting designer brought in to refresh the production. Des Grieux's first solo gives him a blue glow and there are other passages which are similarly lit.

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There was a dark strip right-left along the middle of the stage during Act I Scene 1 which quite distracted me during Des Grieux' solo and the pas de deux, because I didn't remember seeing it before.  I assumed it was shadow from that woven-rush-like canopy which stretches across the stage.  Perhaps that's why.

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Yes my daughter noticed the altered lighting and didn’t much like it.  I will pay more attention on Wednesday night!

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I went to the performance last night to see Matthew Ball's debut and I was not disappointed!  Yes, the first solo was a little tentative but he grew in to the role and Act 3 was just anguished!  Loved it. He's one of my "must see" male Principal's now.  

 

Personally, I liked Lauren Cuthbertson's interpretation of Manon. There was definitely two different Manon's on display: one -  the real Manon who falls in love with Des Grieux and the other Manon who knows what she has to do to earn a living.  Yes, she was beguiled by the riches but not so blatantly as other Manon interpretation's I have seen.  The 2 Manons were most obvious in Act 2 in the brothel scenes.  She flirted with Monsieur GM but there was an obvious switch between her demeanour to him and what she really felt in her true self for Des Grieux.  I liked that interpretation as the fully flirty Manon doesn't sit so comfortably with me. Personal choice I know.

 

Valentino Zucchetti was an excellent Lescaut. The drama and drunkenness wasn't overplayed and I loved Beatrix Stix-Brunell's mistress.

 

There were one or two slight changes to what I expected,  but I'm happy if different casts do different things. Could someone tell me please - did Matthew Ball use his right hand coat pocket to cheat at cards or not?  I didn't see it but may have been looking away at just the wrong moment. I always have trouble in the brothel scenes knowing exactly what to watch - there's so much to see!

 

I also discovered last night that Ed Watson is coaching this pairing as well as Alexander Campbell and Francesca Hayward. I think they did him proud.    

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Ball certainly pushed his cards under his thigh at one moment - don't remember noticing him using the pocket much.  Wonder if it was another one of those costume-malfunction moments - there seemed to be quite a few of those, plus set/prop malfunctions, last night.

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17 hours ago, Bluebird said:

 

I asked an usher about this and he told me that the correct cast sheets didn't arrive and that they'd (sensibly, in my opinion)  made the decision to print their own.  It seems the problem lies with the company they use to print the normal cast sheets rather than with the ROH itself.  I understand that a similar problem occurred at a recent opera performance and that, on that occasion, there were no cast sheets until the interval.

This explains why it didn't contain all the info usually shown on the cast list. I wondered why there was no credit for staging or principal coaching.  I did wonder if Anthony Dowell had coached Matthew Ball, given that it was his debut in the role and Dowell had created Des Grieux.

 

Linda 

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20 hours ago, alison said:

I must admit, I'm still very surprised that, given her performances in the role last time around, Francesca Hayward wasn't given the first night of Manon.  I hope some of the critics will manage to go and see other casts during the run.

Having just read through all the first night reviews (other than the FT) it struck me that the Lamb/Muntagirov pairing was an odd choice for a first night.  Surely the Ball debut or as Alison says, Hayward, deserved some of that attention.  I know Muntagirov always dances beautifully and has in fact garnered some very good reviews, but my own feeling is that Lamb isn’t a natural Manon and it was inevitable that the critics would pick up on her coolness and lack of Macmillan intensity... I just think the first night cast should have a bit more of a buzz about it - either Ball, Hayward or the Osi/Halberg casts would have had that.  Especially during a period of such weak sales (although That might not have been anticipated when these decisions were taken of course). Just feels a bit careless... 

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3 minutes ago, balletyas said:

Having just read through all the first night reviews (other than the FT) it struck me that the Lamb/Muntagirov pairing was an odd choice for a first night.  Surely the Ball debut or as Alison says, Hayward, deserved some of that attention.  I know Muntagirov always dances beautifully and has in fact garnered some very good reviews, but my own feeling is that Lamb isn’t a natural Manon and it was inevitable that the critics would pick up on her coolness and lack of Macmillan intensity... I just think the first night cast should have a bit more of a buzz about it - either Ball, Hayward or the Osi/Halberg casts would have had that.  Especially during a period of such weak sales (although That might not have been anticipated when these decisions were taken of course). Just feels a bit careless... 

 

Well most of the critics were extremely complimentary about both Lamb and Muntagirov. And first nights (of existing works) generally seem to be cast according to known high quality rather than debuts or other criteria. Whether different criteria should be used is an interesting question. Debuts aren't always good, and it  might not be good for company morale if first nights went to guests. On the other hand they might be more newsworthy. ??!

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58 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

Well most of the critics were extremely complimentary about both Lamb and Muntagirov. And first nights (of existing works) generally seem to be cast according to known high quality rather than debuts or other criteria. Whether different criteria should be used is an interesting question. Debuts aren't always good, and it  might not be good for company morale if first nights went to guests. On the other hand they might be more newsworthy. ??!

Well I agree it’s a vexed question and you probably can’t win as each one of those issues - debuts/guests/tried and true raises multiple problems but I felt in this instance that Lamb wasn’t really a natural Manon so why give all those reviews to her - which although complimentary in some ways,  almost all added the caveat of too cool/reserved/lacking in intensity/low chemistry...I do think Hayward could have carried it, gained great publicity and rave reviews and perhaps Coppelia first cast could have gone to one of the several other potentially very good dancers.  

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10 hours ago, loveclassics said:

This explains why it didn't contain all the info usually shown on the cast list. I wondered why there was no credit for staging or principal coaching.  I did wonder if Anthony Dowell had coached Matthew Ball, given that it was his debut in the role and Dowell had created Des Grieux.

 

Linda 

 

I'm just skimming through the programme before today's matinee & Dowell isn't listed in the coaching credits. The credited coaches are Alexander Agzahanov, Leanne Benjamin, Chriatopher Saunders, Robert Tewsley & Ed Watson.

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Lamb isn’t usually my first choice either but She frequently surprises me in this role, her Manon with Pennefather some years back being a prime example. 

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Sarah Lamb is someone I always enjoy hugely in MacMillan ballets (I've seen her in Elite Syncopations, Winter Dreams, Romeo and Juliet, and also the cinema broadcast of Mayerling). Something about her lyrical dancing style really works for me with his choreography. For me, this afternoon's Manon was the best yet - beautiful dancing and I thought she perfectly acted the wide range of emotions to go with Manon's changing fortunes and outlook. Really wonderful and hugely appreciated by the audience.

 

Vadim Muntagirov was outstanding too of course, I think they make a really great partnership.

 

I'm sure there are many others equally as deserving, but I can certainly see why Lamb and Muntagirov would be chosen for opening night.

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Completely agree, DanJL. This afternoon's performance was superb, with both Lamb and Muntagirov brilliant and heartbreaking. His dancing was beautiful and full of controlled strength, and it was matched by his devastating interpretation of a young man caught up in something more powerful than he can control. Lamb is at the height of her powers, and her portrayal of Manon is both complex and incredibly moving. She genuinely falls in love with Des Grieux; but then, immediately, is offered something so tempting that she cannot resist. As the luxurious cloak is put over her shoulders, and the glittering jewels around her neck, she looks out in the auditorium in a state of blissful shock and challenge, as if saying to us: 'wouldn't you do the same, given all this? Don't we all want all this?'. She's not just attracted, or tempted - she's completely seduced by the riches. And she wants desperately to cling onto them, will do almost anything to cling onto them. Only when death and disaster have resulted does she understand the consequences; in the last act, defeated and dying, she again looks out at the audience, wide-eyed with anguish and almost as if reproaching us for not warning her, not saving her. And so she dies in the arms of the man who loved her, and he howls in untrammelled grief.

 

Hirano was an excellent and powerfully danced Lescaut; I saw the drunk dance in a slightly new way today, i.e. he's drunk because of the guilt of the awful knowledge that he's sunk as low as to prostitute his little sister. So although it was funny, it was also melancholy to watch. Later in the act, his dancing whirls and leaps behind Manon and Des Grieux, expressing the turmoil of conflicting emotions he too is feeling. And his death was truly gruesome and horrifying.

 

Gary Avis was a horribly convincing Gaoler, exercising his power mercilessly over the broken Manon; and Christopher Saunders a sleazy and disgusting Monsieur G.M. A wonderful company performance.

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Years ago I saw David Drew in the role of the gaoler horribly convincing and it put me off him for quite a while after that till I could disassociate him from the role! 🙄     I was much younger then though. 

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Will Tuckett was pretty scary too.

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1 minute ago, LinMM said:

Years ago I saw David Drew in the role of the gaoler horribly convincing and it put me off him for quite a while after that till I could disassociate him from the role! 🙄     I was much younger then though. 

Was that when there was an extra pas de deux for the Gaoler and his mistress? It was particularly nasty.

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I remember it being quite nasty the whole scene ...so possibly!! It was with Sibley as Manon and Dowell as Des Grieux so a few years back now!  

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Regarding Sarah Lamb...I have always admired her as a beautiful dancer and actress. The clincher for me was seeing her Juliet at the cinema screening. The scene where she is sitting on the bed before deciding to take the potion was incredible. Her face and eyes said it all. 

 

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I saw this afternoon’s performance and it was stupendous. A lot of standers at the end and deservedly so - both Lamb and Muntagirov delivered in spades. I don’t find Lamb cold and I think Manon is possibly her best role. She looked like the cat who had got the cream in Act 2, and in Act 3 she just looked so tiny and fragile and broken.... Muntagirov’s dancing was as mind-blowingly beautiful as ever but along with that his acting was heart-rending, and he has such an expressive body that his anguish came over in full force. Tears at the end....

 

i love the pairing of Hirano and Mendizabal as Lescaut and his mistress - they are an excellent match and her comic timing is impeccable.

 

And it is meant to be complimentary when us say that Gary Avis was utterly loathsome as the jailor - he made me shudder. I found Christopher Saunders as Monsieur GM a bit disappointing - I found Avis’s portrayal last time more convincing.

 

A great afternoon - such a shame it hasn’t sold better with the Company dancing it so well.

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19 hours ago, loveclassics said:

This explains why it didn't contain all the info usually shown on the cast list. I wondered why there was no credit for staging or principal coaching.  I did wonder if Anthony Dowell had coached Matthew Ball, given that it was his debut in the role and Dowell had created Des Grieux.

 

Linda 

No, it was Ed Watson - and I think he did rather a good job!  Really looking forward to his 2nd performance. 

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Absolutely agree- for me Lamb/Muntagirov were in the top 3 for Manon pairings ever seen.

To me, they look perfect together- I have saved one of the lovely photos of them  in the first pas de deux from the ROH News/ Your reaction to Manon/ page  and it makes my heart lift whenever I look at it........

 

If there was any sense of less of a buzz about the first night of the season,  that was surely down to the fact -as discussed at length elsewhere- of deplorable policies hitting tickets sales and also, because Manon has been on the stage so much lately- not just RB but ENB.

 

Last year, having Bayadere as the first night of the season was a bit special as it hadn't been on for a while - and the technical wizardry of the lead dancers and the corps was exceptional ( I THINK it might have been Muntagirov again ...🙂)

 

But  perhaps it would have been good to have something different to start off the year....Coppelia perhaps.

 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Mary said:

Last year, having Bayadere as the first night of the season was a bit special

La B was wonderful, although Mayerling opened the season.

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Memory not what it was Richard...thanks for correction!

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I agree that this afternoon's performance was exceptional. Has anyone (since Dowell, or even including him) ever danced Des Grieux's opening solo more beautifully than Muntagirov? Likewise the solo near the end of Act2? Astonishing.

Lamb certainly gave her Manon her all and It struck me that, if Manon takes a while to return to the rep., this might have been her last death in the swamp. If that proves to be the case, she will have gone out on an amazing high.

The audience today seemed much more appreciative than on the opening night. There is always a feeling of reticence on the first night of the season: it's as if people are taking time to settle back into the Royal Ballet. But, my, things had certainly warmed up by this afternoon. So pleased for all the cast that that was the case.

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21 hours ago, loveclassics said:

This explains why it didn't contain all the info usually shown on the cast list. I wondered why there was no credit for staging or principal coaching.

 

It doesn't really explain it, though: it was a standard ROH cast sheet, just copied onto A4 paper.  The credits for principal coaching disappeared from the cast sheet at the beginning of last season, I think, and have yet to return - unless, of course, they are guest coaches sponsored by somebody.  Which says something I don't think I like very much about the ROH's priorities.  Not sure about stagings, but I expect the same applies.

 

10 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I'm just skimming through the programme before today's matinee & Dowell isn't listed in the coaching credits. The credited coaches are Alexander Agzahanov, Leanne Benjamin, Chriatopher Saunders, Robert Tewsley & Ed Watson.

 

Thank you.  I hadn't expected to see Tewsley's name there.

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19 minutes ago, capybara said:

Lamb certainly gave her Manon her all and It struck me that, if Manon takes a while to return to the rep., this might have been her last death in the swamp. If that proves to be the case, she will have gone out on an amazing high.

 

Have they only got the two shows, then?  Thank heavens I got to see this one, then!  I totally agree that Muntagirov's acting has improved since last time around - and I noticed little transitional steps/movements in the choreography which usually tend to go missing, too.  I found myself regretting - not for the first time - that the ROH hadn't waited another season before putting their performance onto DVD.

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