Manon - Oct 22nd, 2013
Wiener Staatsballet: Manon (October 22nd, 2013)
To be very honest, yesterday I was not in a real „Manon-mood“… I even thought of not going to the Opera. The dancer that was initially cast for Des Grieux was not going to dance and that had been the main reason why I had bought the ticket. Having seen “Manon” so often, and not long ago with Friedemann Vogel, I felt that it was not really a matter of extreme importance to attend to it. How wrong can one be! In fact I am tending now to say that this was one of the best “Manon” performances which I have ever seen.
Maria Yakovleva gave a beautiful portrayal of Manon. Her profound insight of the character was touching, frightening, impressive and sometimes even chocking. She gave us beautiful “pictures to take with us” in a great number of scenes, some of them not even “so important” (from the dancing point of view) but extremely necessary , real “key-scenes”, to the development of the drama. For example; leaving for a new lover she displays extreme coldness and aloofness towards Des Grieux while he’s crying and begging for her. She simply shows no feeling for a man who is crazily in love with her and who left his life to be with her. She just thinks selfishly about her future, about herself. Maria Yakovleva has an incredible command, as an actress, of the “finesse” of this character which could have passed unobserved. She knows the role and has been brilliantly coached. It must be hard to play such a vicious slut like Manon… Yet, this “Lola-Lola” of the 18th Century is a hard cookie. Yakovleva’s Manon is more than that. She is the Manon from Prévost not the one from the Opera, from the Ballet, romanticized pictures… This causes, obviously, a great contrast (at the final act) to the extreme fragility to which she has been reduced and to the hopeless effortsto survive in the swamps, where she finally finds death, destroying at the same time Des Grieux’s happiness forever…
Yes, “Lola-Lola” (The Blue Angel, 1930) comes once more to my mind (and heart):
“Männer umschwirren mich wie Motten das Licht und wenn sie verbrennen Ja dafür kann ich nicht“
Roman Lazik, a very good Danseur Noble, who, as many classical dancers, tends to use constantly an expression of “suffering” in different roles, gave a surprising performance yesterday. For me. I had already seen his Chevalier Des Grieux last Season but this time I was overwhelmed by the nuances which compose his “current” interpretation. Full of that special richness which reveal lots of introspective thoughts about the character, insight, sensibility. Mr. Lazik, in full command of his technique and virtuosity, gave us a very special portrayal on stage. He was the character, not the dancer preoccupied with his pirouettes and other technical displays. This is exactly what I love to see – an artist using technique as a tool to achieve perfect artistry, not a dancer in a constant cult to technique. But I must add that his use/command of his arms is something quite unique…
But the real Star of the evening was Misha Sosnovschi. I compare his Lescaut to the greatest ones I have ever seen. You are thinking about David Wall (1946-2013) who was Lescaut to Anthony Dowell’s Des Grieux? Yes? But I am also thinking of Dowell’s cynical Lescaut to Wall’s Des Grieux (yes, they alternated the roles a lot!). It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a Lescaut. Human, with all his faults, flaws, vices, greed, eroticism, humour… His Lescaut is really made of flesh and blood. Misha is passing though that very special moment in an artist’s life, an unique moment that does not take long – a moment in which he brings together two very important things… he still has his intact youth but he arrived at a certain point of artistic maturity. He shines technically and is, at the same time, an actor mastering his character in his minimal details.
Chapeau to Mr. Sosnovschi, who also showed great skill while partneringKetevan Papava in the “drunken pas de deux”!
Davide Dato, brilliant as the beggar in the first act and Alexis Forabosco’s very imposing warden who is possessed by desire for Manon were other “ingredients” that made this evening a very special one. Monsieur Forabosco’s unique presence on stage also reconfirms what I said above… A dancer in full command of his technique… and, by the way, the warden is one of the most daring characters in a MacMillan piece. He is erotic and dangerous. The scene in which he kisses Manon’s foot and uses her leg as an object for pleasure is more than notorious…
The choice of Dagmar Kronberger for “Madame” was not a good one: my image of this character is a completely different one – she should be more vulgar, bawdy, grotesque, ugly… everything that Miss Kronberger isn’t and will never be! Dagmar Kronberger’s natural elegance and beauty makes it very hard for us to relate to her as an underworld woman. She’s too gracious for that.
Besides, I believe that Madame should be a role for a much elder Dancer. But are there elder character dancers at the Opera at the moment? I do not think so… Like in Stuttgart we would need here a Ludmilla Bogart, a Melinda Witham, a Dimitri Magitov.
Something very rare happened to me in this evening of October 22nd: I leaned back on my seat, forgot all I know about ballet, let the story be told to my heart, became a tiny part of the huge audience and at the very end of the tragic story, I cried.
Yes, emotion took over.
There was no intellect, nor analysis, nor subjective interpretations: just emotion.
I am thankful for that.
Thanks to the whole ensemble!
Picture Copyrights: Wiener Staatsballet and Reproductions from the Programme