season's Manon at the Royal Opera House for two reasons. One was a very good reason and the other not so good.
Taking the good reason first, one can't see everything because there are not enough hours in the day and not enough noughts in my bank balance. If I saw everything that I want to see at the Royal Ballet I would never have time or money for anything else. Now I know the Royal Ballet is the gold standard and I love it dearly but that does not mean that everything else is rubbish. My beloved Northern won the Taglioni award this year and there is great work coming out of Birmingham, Glasgow as well as Leeds not to mention places like Grantham, Newport and Taynuilt, all of which deserves attention, criticism and support.
The less than good reason is that I am a Sibley fan (see Ballerina 1 July 2013). Manon was created for Dame Antoinette as she recalled at her talk to the London Jewish Cultural Centre on 1 Feb 2014 (Le jour de gloire est arrive - Dame Antoinette Sibley with Clement Crisp at the Royal Ballet School 3 Feb 2014). I was afraid that I would be disappointed by anyone else in the role. A moment's reflection would have persuaded me that such a fear was groundless for many reasons not least of which is the fact that Sibley is coaching modern ballerinas in that role. But the real clincher came when I saw the rehearsal on World Ballet Day. Marianela Nuñez is not Sibley but as you can see from the clip she is a very convincing Manon.
As it was too late to book for the House and as I was busy on Thursday I decided to see the encore at Huddersfield Odeon this afternoon and very good it was too. This is a gruelling role demanding a lot from the ballerina and her partner but Nuñez was up for it as was Federico Bonelli who danced des Grieux. They were strongly supported by Ricardo Cervera as Manon's brother Lescaut, Christopher Saunders as GM and Gary Avis as the gaoler of the penal colony.
The presentation was a lot better than in previous years with interesting interviews with Kevin O''Hare, Nuñez and Bonelli though the Royal Opera House are still some way behind Pathe-Live. They could do themselves a favour by omitting the gushing but in many cases ill-informed tweets which are very irritating for those of us who actually do go to the ballet regularly. The Bolshoi and Pathe-Live do not see the need to do that and neither should Covent Garden.