DANCE: Manon Royal Opera House London oooo9
Tuesday 08 February 2005
This is a vivid revival of MacMillan's 1974 ballet, performed with sweep and attack. Martin Yates conducts an animated account of the score, scraps of Massenet assembled by Leighton Lucas. Nicholas Georgiadis surrounds its corrupt 18th-century world with rags and brocades, sumptuous costumes and squalid backcloths. The corps, playing beggars, whores and clients, dance with greedy attention.
Manon is torn between love and money, falling for the young student Des Grieux but readily lured by the furs and diamonds offered by older men. Guillem is best when she's being tempted, her attention skipping from clothes to jewels to prospective clients. She's a precise actress, making much of passing moments. When she and Des Grieux quarrel over a bracelet, the repeated gestures are different each time, shading from flippancy to rage. But she has less impact in the ballet's major scenes. She's a strong stage presence, but her dancing is pallid. Manon's brothel solo is full of come-hither gestures, of flirtatious footwork. Guillem dresses it up with touches of acting detail, but she won't let her body do the talking. Her feet are unnuanced, her torso blankly upright. She does pull the stops out in her death scene: launching herself into Des Grieux's arms, she spotlights certain steps - a pose, an outstretched leg. Those moments have an icy boldness, but they are isolated effects. They don't suggest Manon's fever, fears or grief.
Jonathan Cope is a quiet, meek Des Grieux. His modesty suits the early scenes, the hero bewildered by a dangerous world. He's been more outgoing, more involved with the drama, in other MacMillan roles: I miss the attack he found in Mayerling. But his partnering is as good as ever, and he and Guillem work well together.
Thiago Soares dances Lescaut, Manon's immoral brother. He isn't always polished, but he's vividly involved with the role. His technique is strong, the jumps and turns big and unforced. Mara Galeazzi gives a hectic performance as his mistress. She rushes at her solos, showing the character's fear and energy, but missing some of the style. Anthony Dowell is forceful but mannered as Monsieur GM, Manon's rich client. William Tuckett, the brutal Gaoler, is much more immediate, caught up in his own cruelty. Smaller roles are vividly taken. Jose Martn, the Beggar Chief, leaps and spins with sleazy vigour, and Belinda Hatley and Laura Morera flounce as squabbling courtesans.
The corps are in buoyant form, dancing with verve. The ballet has some repetition, but the performance stays taut. Manon looks much juicier now than it did two years ago, at the last revival. There's a new springiness to footwork; MacMillan's onstage world looks brighter and seedier.
In repertory to 1 March (020-7304 4000)
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
Dennis Rodman will coach the North Korea basketball team
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Coriolanus, theatre review: 'Tom Hiddleston has blazing stellar power'
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
Call the Midwife Christmas special: Behind the scenes with Miranda Hart
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >