Abbé Prévost, the 18th century author of Manon (Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, published in 1731) probably never thought his heroine would be so celebrated - two ballets and four operas - and reach the 21st century. MacMillan choreographed the story aided by L.Lucas and Hilda Gaunt who assembled various pieces from Massenet music but curiously not from his opera Manon and the ballet came to light im 1974, danced by legends Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley.
This DVD filmed in 2008 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is a thrilling experience at all levels. Tamara Rojo/Manon and Carlos Acosta/Des Grieux give us a most poignant interpretation. T.Rojo contrives to portray the heroine's complex character throughout the ballet and C.Acosta is like a most gifted painter giving true life to a portrait, both dancing MacMillan's difficult steps with fabulous technique and intelligence.MacMillan is a genius exploring human nature, showing characters through his choreographies and in this case Rojo and Acosta respond in a state of absolute cumplicity.Seldom can one actually feel Manon's misery and Des Grieux's extreme pain as in the miraculously danced and interpreted Act 3, scene 3.
The other dancers, José Martín (Lescault),Laura Morera (Lescault's mistress),young and virtuoso Paul Kay(the beggar chief) dance flawlessly and with "brio", underlining brilliantly the characters of their personae.This is certainly a masterpiece and a credit for the entire company such is the level of this production, from the design to the staging. Last but not the least, Massenet's music is superiorly conducted by Martin Yates.Magnificently filmed this is a Manon not only to remember but also to watch endlessly.
But, if all in this Manon is superlative, it is not less true that prince Anthony Dowell's Des Grieux remains the reference because of his unique technique and acting.