Music

Manon at the Royal Opera House

A-level Musicians were at Covent Gardens Royal Opera House this week to watch ‘Kenneth MacMillan’s powerful telling of Manon and Des Grieux’s tragic love is a masterpiece of modern ballet, set to music by Massenet.’ – ROH

The luxurious orchestrations and lavish story telling was an excellent example of programme music, studied as part of the students course. Seeing the full might of the Royal Opera House orchestra from their stalls seats enabled our students to be completely immersed in the sound world of Romantic repertoire. It was a a real treat for them to see world class standards of performance.

A little about the Ballet from the Royal Opera House:

The premiere was given on 7 March 1974, with the lead roles of Manon and Des Grieux danced by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell. The ballet quickly became a staple of The Royal Ballet’s repertory, and a touchstone of adult, dramatic dance.

MacMillan found new sympathy with the capricious Manon and her struggle to escape poverty. Designs by his regular collaborator Nicholas Georgiadis reflect this, depicting a world of lavish splendour polluted by miserable destitution. MacMillan’s spectacular ensemble scenes for the whole Company create vivid, complex portraits of the distinct societies of Paris and New Orleans. But it is Manon and Des Grieux’s impassioned pas de deux – recalling the intensity of MacMillan’s earlier Romeo and Juliet – that drive this tragic story, and make Manon one of MacMillan’s most powerful dramas.

The Observers Dance critic Luke Jennings notes: ‘There are no minor characters in this ballet. You could write a novel about any of them.’