Artistic Director David Bintley often speaks reverently of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan. The novel Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost has inspired numerous adaptations. It was the basis for operas by Giacomo Puccini and Jules Massenet, and has also been the subject of paintings and films. The thing that has reached across generations to capture the imaginations of so many artists is the character of the femme fatale, Manon. MacMillan's Manon is considered by many to be the pinnacle of British ballet, and an enormously challenging one that tests the overall caliber of any ballet company. At the heart of the narrative lies the pure love between Manon and Des Grieux. This is a beautiful and magnificent tale, of the love and death of two young people who surrender themselves to their passions, pursue luxury and pleasure, and follow a path to destruction to the very end. The ballet features several duets which incorporate many of the acrobatic lifts that are a characteristic of MacMillian's work. These elements, set against the lovely melodies of Jules Massenet, combine to exert a powerful emotional impact on the viewer.
Manon is a ballet characterized by dramatic expression and a meticulously crafted structure, and one which also highlights the magnetism of the individual dancers. It was a resounding success with audiences at the time of its premiere by the National Theatre of Japan in 2003. The dancers of the company have gained much experience since then, performing in two overseas productions and staging several new ballets. Now, after a nine-year absence, anticipation is building for this revival of Manon.
A brilliant work such as this is a fitting way to wrap up the season, and we hope to see you there.