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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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American Ballet Theatre: Manon 2007

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 16, 2007
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

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American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
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About the Author:


American Ballet Theatre
www.abt.org

Manon 2007
Ballet in Three Acts
At
Metropolitan Opera House
www.lincolncenter.org

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Wes Chapman, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Clinton Luckett
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
(Read More ABT Reviews).

Manon (1993): (See June 23, 2006 Review) Choreography and direction by Kenneth MacMillan, Music by Jules Massenet, Staged by Monica Parker, Orchestrated and arranged by Leigton Lucas, with the collaboration of Hilda Gaunt, Sets and costumes by Nicholas Giorgiadis, Lighting by Thomas R. Skelton. The student, Des Grieux, at a courtyard of an inn near Paris, meets Manon, as she departs for a convent. An old gentleman is attracted to her, but Manon and Des Grieux fall in love immediately and escape with money stolen from the old man. Lescaut, Manon's brother, makes a bargain with the old man to give him Manon, but then a wealthier Monsieur G.M. also wants Manon, and Lescaut switches the deal.

When Des Grieux leaves his studio to post a letter, Manon meets G.M., through her brother, and accepts his bribery of jewels and money. Lescaut tries to bribe Des Grieux in the deal and later persuades Des Grieux to take G.M.'s money at cards to re-acquire Manon, who is now torn between her patron and her lover. Manon again rushes away with Des Grieux, after the card game goes wild, and they declare love. Manon is arrested as a prostitute, and Lescaut is shot by G.M. Manon is deported to America, followed by Des Grieux, and the jailer assaults Manon. Des Grieux stabs the jailer and escapes with Manon into Louisiana's swamps. As they flee, Manon dies in Des Grieux' arms. (ABT Notes).


June 13, 2007, Matinee: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Alessandra Ferri as Manon, Angel Corella as Des Grieux, Ethan Stiefel as Lescaut, Stella Abrera as Lescaut's Mistress, Roman Zhurbin as Monsieur G.M., Isaac Stappas as The Jailer, Marine Van Hamel as Madame, Jared Matthews as Beggar Chief, Clinton Luckett as Old Man, and the Company as Courtesans, Actresses, Gentlemen, Clients, Harlots, Beggar Boys, Innkeeper, Maid, Skivvy, Townswomen, Garrison Soldiers, Ratcatcher, Servants, Guards, Footmen.

June 16, 2007: Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Performed by Alessandra Ferri as Manon, Roberto Bolle as Des Grieux, Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky as Lescaut, Stella Abrera as Lescaut's Mistress, Roman Zhurbin as Monsieur G.M., Isaac Stappas as The Jailer, Georgina Parkinson as Madame, Arron Scott as Beggar Chief, Clinton Luckett as Old Man, and the Company as Courtesans, Actresses, Gentlemen, Clients, Harlots, Beggar Boys, Innkeeper, Maid, Skivvy, Townswomen, Garrison Soldiers, Ratcatcher, Servants, Guards, Footmen.

In the ballet world, an unexpected dance injury can result in shifts of partnering and appearances that change the nature and nuance of the production. On both dates above, Xiomara Reyes was replaced by the soon-to-retire Alessandra Ferri, and, on the second date, Angel Corella was replaced by Roberto Bolle, Ms. Ferri's Italian ballet partner, imported for her Farewell and a few additional performances. Two Des Grieux and two distinct differences in the Pas de Deux, both virtuosic and both riveting. Manon is a role for a mature, seasoned ballerina, a role with psychological and physical shifts and layers, and Ms. Ferri possesses these requisite attributes and exudes virtuosity extraordinaire. With Mr. Corella, she showcased her physical potentials and, with Mr. Bolle, she showcased her psychological potentials.

Massenet's sumptuous score drove the drama to gut-wrenching intensity, as Ms. Ferri seduces Des Grieux in his bedroom-study, as she suddenly rejects this lover for the jewels and furs offered by Monsieur G.M. and sequentially seduces him, as she lifts one leg over the torso of gentleman after Gentleman at Madame's Party, and, much later, as she is lifted mid-air and floated and tossed by Des Grieux in Louisiana and finally in the swamp. As her furs turn to rags, and her fine hair is shorn, Ms. Ferri becomes more and more humanized, more and more infused with pathos, and more and more hard for the audience to surrender to retirement. This prima ballerina dances yet in her prime. The air was sucked from the Opera House.

Angel Corella dances fully in his prime, as well, and with hormonal force and propulsion. He mesmerizes the eye. He commands the music and accomplishes technical feats that surpass the imagination, both onstage and en air. But, as partners, one senses that these are dancers, performers, maximizing the choreographic potentials. With Roberto Bolle, one senses that these could be lovers, that the performance has an erotic edge. The joy in the togetherness is thick with passion and chemistry. Roberto Bolle did not execute all the partnered tosses and solo spins that Mr. Corella accomplished, and there were slow, muscular edges to his imagery, in contrast to Mr. Corella's delightful dervish. As stated above, two Des Grieux, both virtuosic and riveting.

A total delight, as well, on the 13th, was Ethan Stiefel as Lescaut, Manon's devious brother, who bumble-danced in a drunken scene with hilarious success. In fact, this was one of Mr. Stiefel's finest roles. In fact, he exuded so much effort, that, on the 16th, he was injured early on and replaced by Sascha Radetsky, with no wig and no makeup. Mr. Radetsky rose to the occasion, but could not fill the shoes. Stella Abrera, as Lescaut's Mistress on both dates, was wily, wanton, and vulnerable, perfectly suited to the role. Her porcelain features and petite physique gave her a ravishing quality as she danced one scintillating solo. Roman Zhurbin, as Monsieur G.M. on both dates, had courtly mannerisms and notable theatricality, with slight pulls of his sleeves, as if he were the epitome of self-possession. His desire and control were fascinatingly pronounced.

As Madame, both Martine Van Hamel on the 13th and Georgina Parkinson on the 16th carried the festive enthusiasm and personality details with much more than cameo appearances. Isaac Stappas, as the Jailer on both dates, was incredibly virile and violent, in control up to his sudden demise. Both Jared Matthews on the 13th and Arron Scott on the 16th were persuasive Beggar Chiefs. The Corps has grown since last season, when this ballet was revived, and its interpretation of the harlots descending the ship, being sold from crowded street carts, and its interpretation of Courtesans, Actresses, and Garrison Soldiers, are remarkably realistic and refined. Ormsby Wilkins is to be commended for the sweeping score, that swells and echoes against itself throughout, starting with a solo oboe, a few strings, then radiant rapture in full warmth and drama.

Kudos to Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Kudos to Alessandra Ferri, who seems to live in her pointe shoes. You can explore the ABT Season Schedule and buy tickets at www.abt.org.
ABT's Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in 'Manon'

ABT's Alessandra Ferri and Roberto Bolle in "Manon"

Photo © & courtesy of MIRA


Ferri and Bolle at the 'Manon' Curtain Call. June 16, 2007 in New York City.

Ferri and Bolle at the "Manon" Curtain Call. June 16, 2007 in New York City.

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng


Ferri and Bolle at the 'Manon' Curtain Call. June 16, 2007 in New York City.

Ferri and Bolle at the "Manon" Curtain Call. June 16, 2007 in New York City.

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng


Candid stills from the ABT production of 'Manon'. Roberto Bolle at the Stage Door.

Candid stills from the ABT production of "Manon". Roberto Bolle at the Stage Door.

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng


Candid photos backstage at the June 16 performance of 'Manon' at the ABT. Fabrizio Ferri and Alessandra Ferri.

Candid photos backstage at the June 16 performance of "Manon" at the ABT. Fabrizio Ferri and Alessandra Ferri.

Photo © & courtesy of Tommy Ng

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