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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epitome of perfection, 16 Mar 2010
By 
Jose Brito (Estoril,Portugal) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manon, 23 April 2010
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
Surely the definitive version, at least unless the original cast (for whom the piece was created) are available! In my view, this is MacMillan's masterpiece, the choreography moving the story along, revealing character and mood like a novel.
Rojo and Acosta take us convincingly and memorably through the changes that their characters experience, as the two young lovers use and corupt each other, pushed along by Manon's horrible brother, danced with great verve by Jose Martin. As always with the Royal Ballet, a team of experienced performers make the supporting roles come to life: I found Christopher Saunders as the lustful and then vengeful sugar daddy, Monsieur G. M., particularly convincing. And Thomas Whitehead as the corrupt and brutal goaler,and the comically drunken de deux danced by Martin and Morera: the list goes on and on. All this action builds slowly and inexorably to the stunningly emotional finale, the death of Manon, when Acosta and Rojo demonstrate just why they are so highly regarded, both technically and dramatically.
There is also a documentary about dancing Manon, with rehearsal footage and interviews with the two principles and Monica Mason, who was in the original production.
I recommend this to anyone who likes ballet: my only proviso would be that the material is not suitable for children
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Floods of tears MacMillian and Massenet, 4 Mar 2010
By 
Arthur Wyatt (London England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
Could not wait for the bluray. I just break out in floods of tears when I watch this so words such as fantastic do not do this proper justice! NO PROBLEM Amazon sent me region 0
The discussion with Monica Tamara and Carlos was very moving particularly when Tamara said she used to rush to see her favourite dancer from Cuba perform when she was a young girl! Tamara and Carlos wished they could have met Kenneth MacMillian but had this occurred Kenneth would have asked for Jules Massenet to be present for nobody else could have tinkered with his scores so effectively without being totally besotted by this somewhat underrated composer. Furthermore the roots go deeper as the first few bars are from La Verge first performed at the Palais Garnier home of the Paris ballet and a wonderful ballet from Le Roi De Lahore. Where the loveliest theme from the bedroom scene comes from I have yet to identify but it is of pure sunshine. What they said about the darker side of MacMillians ballets make Massenet and MacMillian kindred spirits.- Mayerling's choreography and Massenet's extreme passionate and lyrical expression in Werther make Mayerling and Werther as close as Manon the opera and Manon the ballet.
When you go to Paris take the Metro to Jardin du Luxembourg. Pay homage at the Massenet Memorial. A truly emotive experience as one metre in front stands a lonely figure of Manon . You may cast a tear or drop flowers but think of the lovely dancers and singers that are our most precious Manons. Tamara you are one of these!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding achievement at all levels, 24 July 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
The story of Manon will be known to many through the operas of both Massenet and Puccini. At first glance this would seem to be a danced version of the Massenet opera as the music is by Massenet but this is a wrong assumption. Instead what we hear is an extended 3 act ballet which skilfully makes use of no less than 45 other compositions of Massenet woven together to make a very effective musical setting for this powerful ballet telling of the story.

One other point concerns the ending. In the Massenet opera the story ends still in France but outside her gaol where Manon dies in some temporary freedom. In the Puccini opera Manon is transported to the United States where she dies in the nearby Florida desert (doubtful geography here!). In this version Manon is transported to New Orleans and dies in the Florida swamps while fleeing after the killing of her gaoler.

This ballet was created in 1974 and has been a regular success ever since. This is for many reasons. The music and choreography make a particularly apt partnership and a firm basis for the story. The choreography also makes a point of being unusually inclusive of so many of the dancers. Clearly the two star roles stand out as they must but there are significant and important roles for a considerable number of supporting characters and this involves individual dancers, small groups of dancers and larger ensembles. As a result there is an increased and constant dramatic impact throughout the ballet across a very wide spectrum. In these ways this is a very typical MacMillan ballet and is constantly rewarding as an enveloping sensory experience.

As there are so many star roles I will avoid singling out particular dancers for special praise as this would be either unfairly brief or disproportionately long. Suffice it to say that all portray their roles to perfection and it would be hard to imagine any area for improvement. Much the same can be said of the settings, costumes and scenery.

That leaves us with Tamara Rojo as Manon and Carlos Acosta as Des Grieux and here one must comment that they, yet again, make a pair of interpretive actors and dancers that seem both made for the parts and also for each other on stage. Both are superlative solo artists but when put together they simply illustrate the idea that the whole is far greater than the sum of the individual parts. This is inspirational dancing and portrayal.

The imaging of this recording is very crisp, with excellent colour rendition and without a trace of movement blur. The camera work is involving and tastefully achieved throughout. The sound is full ranging and presented in both DTS 5.1 and stereo and fully reveals the excellence of the orchestra which is on fine form.

In my opinion this is probably a definitive recording for the great majority of viewers and will probably remain as the purchase of choice for a very long time to come. It is therefore only reasonable for it to be rated at a full 5 stars.

............................................

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I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 17 Feb 2010
By 
J. Sheer (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
Long awaited release in the UK - wonderful production, look out for Tamara and Carlos but also a wonderful performance by Tom Whitehead as the Gaoler. A must have if you're a ballet fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad story but beautifully told..., 14 Feb 2011
By 
Oyarsa (Madrid, ES) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
I wholeheartedly agree with the other reviews. This is a ballet to treasure.

If you don't like the bad endings this is not for you for obvious reasons. Manon dies at the end, that's true, but believe me that the trip is worth the tears you'll drop. Everyone is a joy to watch (notably José Martín as Lescaut). The work put in this production is palpable and the dancers are enjoining to be part of it all along the way.
Tamara Rojo as the title role needs a separate mention. She is SO perfect in this role: cheeky, playful, ambitious, sensual, and always with a sense of fragility and tenderness yet bravery that will enchant you from the very beginning.

The music is superbly played (don't be put off about the mixing of different scores, this is Massenet after all) and the costumes and sets are just wonderful.

Should you buy it? Of course, this is the one Manon you'll need for quite a while. You may purchase other versions but I would recommend this one as your first and measure for the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 26 April 2014
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
I had heard about but had never seen this ballet. What a magnificent treat was in store for me when I watched it. The dancing is superb. Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta were made for each other - the connection between them is palpable. Although the story behind the ballet is sad it is interspersed with humour. However the ending is so passionate and grief stricken it left me with tears running down my face. Everything about this production is perfect. I shall watch it over and over again and will never tire of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 18 Mar 2014
By 
P. Eaves "writer" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
I was swept away by the skill of the dancers on this DVD. It was absolutely riveting and splendid entertainment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!!, 11 Feb 2014
By 
Wanda Garofalo "Wanda G." (Chicago,Il USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is breathtaking! MacMillan was a genius. Acosta and Rojo are superb. The supporting cast, Martin, Saunders, Morera, the entire corps de ballet are first rate. Massenet's music is "swoon-worthy". I never tire of it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Manon: Royal Ballet (Yates) [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] (DVD)
Very good but not the best dancing. Dowell and Penny still the gold standard
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