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annamk

The Royal Ballet, Manon, Autumn 2014

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The Friends General rehearsal today was Lamb & Pennefather. I know we don't generally comment on rehearsals but given the slow ticket sales for this run, I want to say that they were terrific and there are plenty of tickets left for the matinee on Saturday at, I believe, discounted prices. Grab a bargain ! 

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I was at the dress rehearsal for the opening night cast of Manon (Marianela Nunez and Federico Bonelli), that starts the RB season for 2014/2015. Here are a few photos. I don't know how many times I've seen Manon now, but that scene at the end in the Louisiana swamp, gets me every time!

 

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Manon - Christopher Saunders, Ricardo Cervera, Marianela Nunez
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Manon - Federico Bonelli, Marianela Nunez, Christopher Saunders
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Manon - Marianela Nunez, Federico Bonelli
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...

Set from DanceTabs - Royal Ballet: Manon
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

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As noone else has posted about last night's performance (Nunez; Bonelli; Cervera; Saunders; Morera; Avis), I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it.

 

Curiously, compared with some other Principals and possibly because of his unfortunate periods of injury, I have not seen a great deal of Federico Bonelli over the years and this was my first sighting of him as Des Grieux. I thought his dancing and characterisation were both absolutely superb and wrenched at my heart. Marianela Nunez (new to me as Manon) seemed to introduce new touches which I need time to get used to - for example, at Madame's, rather than initially seeking to avoid looking Des Grieux in the eye, she engaged with him virtually straight away, emphasising to him the riches she now had. She was also encumbered with a very bouncy, full wig which made her look overly mature from the word go. She danced beautifully as usual, of course. Cervera and Morera were superb as Lescaut and his Mistress, and Avis was a brutal Gaoler (curiously wearing yellow breeches over the normal white tights!). Saunders has never 'cut it' for me as Monsiour GM and did not do so last night either: Being lecherous does not seem to be within his acting vocabulary.

 

There are plenty of seats available for this cast's second two shows - highly recommended.

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Looking at the photographs, I'm not keen on the wigs but I suppose that they are historically accurate. They're not very flattering.

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Lamb and Pennefather today were absolutely stunning. One of the best experiences i've ever had at the ballet.

Edited by chrischris
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I was there last night - a very emotional performance from Nunez and Bonelli. As Dave said above, even though I've seen Manon lots of times, the final pas de deux reduces me to tears every time and I actually felt quite sad all the way home.

 

The brothel scene in Act 2 was brilliant - fantastic fun and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera are surely the king and queen of that drunk dance. That scene always leaves me feeling like I need to see it again because there must be so many little things I've missed, but of course no two performances of it are ever exactly the same I'm sure, and that's one of the things makes MacMillan ballets so special - they really are living art.

 

Has Manon's Act 3 dress always been long to begin with and then shorter for the final scene, or is that a new thing? I don't remember it being like that before. I also don't remember there being such a long blackout between the docks scene and the Gaoler's room, but then I think it's been a few years since the last time I saw Manon live and probably on the DVD that time is taken up with a plot description on the screen.

 

I think it's a massive shame that Manon never seems to sell out because it's a great ballet. There was a whole chunk of stalls circle standing places empty last night, which annoyed me because I'd been checking the website (and here) for one for weeks with no luck, and in the end had queued in the morning for a day ticket as I had the day off work. I got an SCS place but ended up moving round to one of the more central places that was empty so I benefited from it in the end, but it was annoying because if only those tickets had been returned to the box office, I could have got one in advance and had a lie in! Ah well, I had a nice time chatting to the girl next to me in the queue - it's always a good place to make new friends!

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Has Manon's Act 3 dress always been long to begin with and then shorter for the final scene, or is that a new thing? I don't remember it being like that before. I also don't remember there being such a long blackout between the docks scene and the Gaoler's room, but then I think it's been a few years since the last time I saw Manon live and probably on the DVD that time is taken up with a plot description on the screen.

 

 

 

Yes, the dress has always been longer to start with although, at the General Rehearsal this week, Sarah Lamb had it short all the way through Act 3.

 

The long blackout and its completely new piece of music have been there since the reorchestration. Can't seem to get used to the new orchestration myself and, in places, it seems to have lost its former vibrance.

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When was the reorchestration done, capybara? I don't know whether I would have seen it before that. I would guess I first saw Manon almost 10 years ago.

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Are there always as many performances? There are 18 this run, which seems a lot for a less popular ballet. The ballet is not suitable for children and younger teenagers, which cuts down the audience numbers, and the dark subject matter will not appeal to some adults either. I would have thought that twelve performances would have been enough.

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The matinee today was my first viewing of Manon.  After reading some of the comments I wasn't expecting to like it, but was very pleasantly surprised. 

 

This was a very beautifully danced and acted performance from start to finish.  The principles were pitch perfect and having booked for the 5th Oct particularly to see Lauren Cuthbertson, I will now be happy to see Sarah Lamb again.

 

I was particularly impressed by Rupert Pennefather who was amazing I could feel the power of his performance coming off the stage, I can't wait to see him in Alice in Wonderland on 31/12.

 

Watching todays show I enjoyed the cast throughout and thought the final scene was totally beautiful.

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The matinee today was my first viewing of Manon.  After reading some of the comments I wasn't expecting to like it, but was very pleasantly surprised. 

 

This was a very beautifully danced and acted performance from start to finish.  The principles were pitch perfect and having booked for the 5th Oct particularly to see Lauren Cuthbertson, I will now be happy to see Sarah Lamb again.

 

I was particularly impressed by Rupert Pennefather who was amazing I could feel the power of his performance coming off the stage, I can't wait to see him in Alice in Wonderland on 31/12.

 

Watching todays show I enjoyed the cast throughout and thought the final scene was totally beautiful.

 

Completely agree. Also thought Alexander Campbell was great as Lescaut (is that how you spell it?). Hopefully he will get some of the big lead roles soon.

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I agree.

 

It was very  good to see Pennefather back again-he gave an affecting performance ,particularly moving I thought in his solos. Shade of the young Johnny Cope in that elegant and understated style.

 

Lamb and Pennefather make an attractive couple.

Alexander Campbell was noteworthy as Lescaut: his great energy was just right for the role and he conveyed the appropriate  reckless callousness.

James Hay managed to shine I thought in the short moment  he was in the spotlight as one of 3 gentlemen- have I got that right- was it him?

 

I have seen it quite a few times and for me this wasn't the best ever, but I can't pin down why- perhaps nerves, understandably indeed, and the early scenes a little slow to get going. 

A word of appreciation for Genesia Rosato- a stalwart member of the company surely- she can glide around in a marvellous gown like noone else.

 

I am not sure about Eric  Underwood as the gaoler -why is he given character parts?  He is a lovely dancer and I would like to see more of him dancing before he moves into these roles ( this must be one of the nastiest characters in ballet too!).

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It is so nice to see handing Genesia Rosato a verbal bouquet - I think she is wonderful.

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I thought Lamb and Pennefather were amazing this afternoon. They are really, really special in this ballet, I think.  All their pas de deux were  beautifully danced and there is wonderful chemistry between them, but most of all, for me, they are so believable which makes their story all the more affecting.  I'm so pleased to see Rupert back and dancing so strongly - I found both his solos very moving.  The steps are so difficult, but you really weren't aware of that as he infused each one with real emotion, and he has such beautiful lines.  I was also very impressed with Alexander Campbell as Lescaut, showing very clearly his calculating nature and just the right 'edge' of nastiness very early on, as well as being a convincing drunk.  This was my first performance of the 2014/15 season - and what  away to start!

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After seeing Lamb and Pennefather I went straight online to check for the next date they are dancing only to discover that I have a ticket for a sold out show elsewhere that day. After dithering for a few hours I decided to ditch my friend on the 10th and book another L&P Manon instead. As annamk said upstream, they were terrific in the rehearsal; today's performance seemed even more gripping, and I couldn't bear the thought that I might never get to see this combination again.

 

This is definitely the best role I have seen Lamb in yet, she creates the perfect ingenue torn between the Good Life and love (and maybe in need of a moral compass). She manages to express longing, loathing, despair with just a look, I never realised her eyes can be that expressive.

 

Pennefather smouldered so intensely, I expected a fire alarm to go off any minute. His moment of hope just before the end nearly broke my heart.

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It is so nice to see handing Genesia Rosato a verbal bouquet - I think she is wonderful.

Absolutely - such a beautiful woman too. I'll never forget her as Larisch back in 2002 and it's lovely to see her illuminating character roles these days.

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Let's hope that she's as good when she's dancing with Vadim (and that Vadim is as good as Rupert).

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Yes, unfortunately, Lauren is injured. Sarah is dancing her Manon performances and so she will be dancing with Vadim.

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Wait....what have I missed? Is Cuthbertson injured?

 

Unfortunately yes. Three days ago she tweeted "Heartbreaking to miss Manon in the upcoming run due to an onstage accident last week dancing that same ballet. Sorry." 

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Oh no! How terrible for Lauren - and I'm pretty gutted to be missing her. :-(

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After seeing Lamb and Pennefather I went straight online to check for the next date they are dancing only to discover that I have a ticket for a sold out show elsewhere that day. After dithering for a few hours I decided to ditch my friend on the 10th and book another L&P Manon instead. As annamk said upstream, they were terrific in the rehearsal; today's performance seemed even more gripping, and I couldn't bear the thought that I might never get to see this combination again.

 

This is definitely the best role I have seen Lamb in yet, she creates the perfect ingenue torn between the Good Life and love (and maybe in need of a moral compass). She manages to express longing, loathing, despair with just a look, I never realised her eyes can be that expressive.

 

Pennefather smouldered so intensely, I expected a fire alarm to go off any minute. His moment of hope just before the end nearly broke my heart.

 

I agree, and it's interesting how some partnerships work in some roles and not so much in others. L & P are my favourite dancers individually. I thought they were ok/good together in Swan Lake, was pretty underwhelmed by their R&J and thought they would have been better with other people, but their Manon is unbelievable. It's a shame RP was injured for their Giselle.

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Yes, unfortunately, Lauren is injured. Sarah is dancing her Manon performances and so she will be dancing with Vadim.

 

She's dancing it on both Thursday 9th October and Friday 10th October, which must be pretty brutal on the legs.

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Chrischris, that's interesting that the partnership has worked more successfully in some productions than others. You would think that a successful partnership would work whatever the production. Perhaps some of the individual roles didn't particularly suit them. It's good to hear that RP danced so strongly yesterday. Whenever I've seen him he has always been rather subdued.

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Chrischris, that's interesting that the partnership has worked more successfully in some productions than others. You would think that a successful partnership would work whatever the production. Perhaps some of the individual roles didn't particularly suit them. It's good to hear that RP danced so strongly yesterday. Whenever I've seen him he has always been rather subdued.

 

It's just my interpretation of course. Others may disagree. For me, they are both quite cool and reserved, and I think sometimes they just appear too cool and detached with each other, whereas in Manon you can feel the chemistry and characterization even up in the amphi. I'm not a big fan of Lamb's Juliet generally, so it may just be certain roles I don't think suit them.

 

I agree about RP. You never quite know know which RP is going to turn up on the day, or turn up at all, given how injury plagued his career has been.

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A feature on Francesca Hayward in today's Sunday Times Culture section :-)

 

I've just read this, I think I would be too nervous to watch the double debut on Tuesday, but will be seeing them on the 15th, hope all goes well and there will be some photos somewhere.

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