BWW Reviews: American Ballet Theatre's MANON
American Ballet Theatre sent its audience on a thrill ride of joy, sorrow, and surprises in Manon. With Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle in the lead roles, choreography and direction by Sir Kenneth MacMillian, and music from the opera of the same name by Jules Massenet, the audience was treated to a passion-filled evening underlined by grace, merriment, tragedy, and pure artistry.
Peter Farmer's set and costume design transported the audience from the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center to Old Paris, where the stark contrasts of grimy, ragged beggars intermingled with the brightly colored bourgeois. From there, a love story, caught in the grasp of money, power, and true devotion, unfolded. The music, orchestrated and arranged by Martin Yates, was vibrant and had perfectly accentuated every turn, leap, lift, and rond de jambe. Sir Kenneth MacMillian's multilayered and quite musical choreography set a busy, action-packed stage, where no corner was left standing still. Group sections showcased the versatility of the corps, especially the men, whose spins, twirls, and high-energy sequences highlighted their strength and talent.
The story followed Manon (Julie Kent), who must choose between her one true love Des Grieux (Roberto Bolle) or the rich suitor Monsieur G.M. (Roman Zhurbin), chosen by her brother Lescaut (Daniil Simkin). Ms. Kent captivated the audience the moment she stepped onto the stage, while Mr. Bolle was magnificent. His opening solo was sincere and gentle, turning with such precision and care as the lovesick Des Grieux. Together they possessed incredible chemistry. Their bodies interweaved in spontaneous synchronization, where swift movements of their limbs carved through the space and grandiose displays of affection complemented exquisite dancing. The two were such flirts; even in the tenderness of their most sensual moments, there was a loud sweetness seen throughout.