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Ambivalent

“Manon”
Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala
Teatro alla Scala
Milan, Italy
July 08, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. N.Manni (Manon) and R.Clarke (Des Grieux), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala Given the mind-boggling speed with which Western culture is changing, La Scala’s live stream of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon felt like a relic from the good old days of ballet. Unlike other staples of the classical repertory—Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, or The Nutcracker, for example—with a spiritual dimension that serves as a source of inspiration in difficult times, Manon has the opposite effect. Based on Abbé Prévost’s novel Manon Lescaut (1731), it dives deeply into the social swamp of early-18th-century France and in the real swamps near the then-French colony of Louisiana. Rabble and the poor crowd the streets and the upper class’s silk and satin façade barely hides their rotten morals. Sex, money, and power reign in everyday life, and, for women, alluring men is the only way to secure an existence. Not a single soul remains untainted in the sex-and-crime-ridden love tragedy of Manon.

3. D.Di Cristo (Chief of the beggars) and ensemble, “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala2. N.Del Freo (Lescaut) and ensemble, “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala Its eponymous heroine, initially the epitome of purity and inner beauty, falls for fur, jewels, and status just as all the rest do and realizes too late that she has made herself a captive of ephemeral glitter. Manon’s faithful lover, Des Grieux, is so imbued with his idea of the good, true, and beautiful that he struggles to keep her from being led astray. Only gradually does he man up and free Manon from the grip of her wealthy suitor, Monsieur G.M. Des Grieux and Manon escape to their love nest, but Des Grieux, blinded by bliss, again acquiesces to her fascination with wealth. While both waste away precious time instead of fleeing, the noose is quickly tightening for them. Monsieur G.M. takes revenge by shooting Manon’s brother and arresting her for prostitution. Des Grieux accompanies Manon on her way to the penal colony in Louisiana and there, by stabbing a brutal jailer for raping Manon, Des Grieux finally put his foot down. However, it is too late for a happy ending.

4. R.Clarke (Des Grieux) and N.Manni (Manon), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala5. R.Clarke (Des Grieux) and N.Manni (Manon),“Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala The story of Manon is anything but uplifting unlike the quality of the performance, which was indeed uplifting. The courtyard of the inn near Paris brimmed with cocky, fleet-footed beggars (led by a crafty rascal danced by Domenico Di Cristo) and saucy demimondes parading their charms. Yet the sauntering gentlemen and their dressed-up companions couldn’t hide the fact that this was a sleazy place. In such surroundings, both Nicoletta Manni’s Manon and Reece Clarke’s Des Grieux reminded me of fresh, white linen that has fallen into the muck. Clarke’s elegant lines seemed an extension of his soul’s ideals to which he aspired with pathos. He was a pure-minded young man who, for a time, rested within himself.
7. N.Del Freo (Lescaut), N.Manni (Manon), and G.Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala 6. G.Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), N.Manni (Manon), and N.Del Freo (Lescaut), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala Perhaps that was why Clarke seemed fully absorbed in the choreography rather than in the fond eyes of his Manon. Once alone with her in his lodgings, he turned into an attentive lover with unleashed, deep passion. Was the faint smile on his lips as Manon was swarmed by suitors at Madame’s brothel party an expression of despair or a lack of comprehension? In any case, his glance as he lay his heart at Manon’s feet was irresistible.

8. M.Arduino (Lescaut’s mistress), and ensemble, “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala9. N.Manni (Manon), G.Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), N.Del Freo (Lescaut), and ensemble; “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla ScalaManni’s Manon was an affirmation that she merited her nomination for this year’s Prix Benois, albeit for a different role: Medora in Le Corsaire. Manni’s dancing was immaculate, her nuanced acting utterly convincing, and her entire performance pure joy.
Although he was a well-mannered gentleman on the surface, Gabriele Corrado’s Monsieur G.M. turned out to be a scumbag inside. Incongruent, too, were the façade and real character of Manon’s brother Lescaut (Nicola Del Freo). At first sight, he appeared to be a caring young man but was in fact utterly corrupt and, at times, sottish. I don’t know why his mistress (Martina Arduino) put up a brave front when his alcohol odor and glassy stare cried out for a thorough dressing down. Perfectly lascivious, she knew how to sell herself, and I think she certainly got hold of a new suitor once Lescaut had met his untimely death in a bloody showdown.
11. G.Starace (Jailer) and ensemble,“Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala 10. R.Clarke (Des Grieux), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala The jailer (Gioacchino Starace) who received the shipload of female convicts in Louisiana was immediately disgusting. A violent, arrogant bastard, he ticked all the boxes of stereotypical rotten penal system staff.
A smart whore mistress to the core, Madame (Francesca Podini) satisfied the appetite of all of her brothel’s clientele. Her business seemed to go very well, though her employees were sometimes absorbed in catfights.

Paul Connelly and the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala contributed a well-versed rendition of Jules Massenet’s score.
12. N.Manni (Manon) and R.Clarke (Des Grieux), “Manon” by K.MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024, photo by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala

Links: Website of the Teatro alla Scala
L’histoire de Manon” – Trailer
“L’histoire de Manon” – Making of
Photos: 1. Nicoletta Manni (Manon) and Reece Clarke (Des Grieux), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
2. Nicola Del Freo (Lescaut) and ensemble, Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
3. Domenico Di Cristo (Chief of the beggars) and ensemble, Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
4. Reece Clarke (Des Grieux) and Nicoletta Manni (Manon), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
5. Reece Clarke (Des Grieux) and Nicoletta Manni (Manon),Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
6. Gabriele Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), Nicoletta Manni (Manon), and Nicola Del Freo (Lescaut), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
7. Nicola Del Freo (Lescaut), Nicoletta Manni (Manon), and Gabriele Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
8. Martina Arduino (Lescaut’s mistress), and ensemble, Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
9. Nicoletta Manni (Manon), Gabriele Corrado (Monsieur G.M.), Nicola Del Freo (Lescaut), and ensemble; Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
10. Reece Clarke (Des Grieux), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
11. Gioacchino Starace (Jailer) and ensemble,Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
12. Nicoletta Manni (Manon) and Reece Clarke (Des Grieux), Manon” by Kenneth MacMillan, Teatro alla Scala 2024
all photos by Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala
Editing: Kayla Kauffman

Prix Benois Laureates 2024

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 25, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Jurors, S.Zakharova, nominees, and laureates, Prix Benois 2024 © Benois Center On Tuesday evening, this year’s Prix Benois laureates were announced on the Historic Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.
The Mariinsky Ballet’s Olesya Novikova won the prize for best female dancer for her performance as Aspiccia in La Fille du Pharaon (Marius Petipa’s version as reconstructed by Toni Candeloro). Gergő Ármin Balázsi (Hungarian National Ballet) and Artemy Belyakov (Bolshoi Ballet) shared the prize for best male dancer. Balázsi was nominated for his performance as Leon in Boris Eifman’s The Pygmalion Effect and Belyakov for his performance as Ivan IV in Yuri Grigorovich’s Ivan the Terrible. Marco Goecke was awarded the prize for best choreography in absentia for In the Dutch Mountains, a creation for the Nederlands Dans Theater. (more…)

Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2024

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Bolshoi Theatre © D.Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre 2. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by Igor Ustinov © Benois Center Thirteen dancers from eight companies are nominated for this year’s Prix Benois. Of the seven women and six men, two dance in China, Hungary, and Italy; one dances in Japan, and six in Russia. Next week, the laureates will be announced in an award ceremony at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Here’s a short overview of the nominees in alphabetical order by company names:
(more…)

Choreographer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2024

Prix Benois de la Danse
Martin Chaix, Marco Goecke, Jo Kanamori, Yuri Possokhov, and Maxim Sevagin
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Bolshoi Theatre © Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theatre2. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by Igor Ustinov © Benois Center On June 25th, the Bolshoi Theatre will host the annual Prix Benois charity gala and awards ceremony. It will be followed by a gala concert on June 26th during which laureates of previous years will perform. Prizes will be awarded to the best choreographer and the best female and male dancers. Below is an overview of the five nominated choreographers in alphabetical order. A report on the nominated dancers will follow. (more…)

At a Gallop

“The Pygmalion Effect”
Hungarian National Ballet
Hungarian State Opera
Budapest, Hungary
June 01, 2024 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Szegő (Holmes) and ensemble, “The Pygmalion Effect” by B.Eifman, Hungarian National Ballet 2024 © V.Berecz/Hungarian State Opera Boris Eifman’s The Pygmalion Effect took my breath away. The dancers of the Hungarian National Ballet whizzed through two, at times terrifically fast, acts and then appeared at the curtain call as if they had merely finished warming up. Hats off! Budapest’s audience has loved the ballet, which was created for Eifman’s home company in St. Petersburg in 2019 and has been in the Hungarian National Ballet’s repertory since June 2023. At Saturday’s matinee, the house was packed to the roof.

Greek mythology has two Pygmalions; one was the son of King Belus of Tyros, and the other is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and was a sculptor who fell in love with his creation. This creation—a statue of a woman who was later called Galatea—subsequently came to life. Eifman took inspiration from Ovid’s Pygmalion and the so-called Pygmalion Effect, a psychological phenomenon that was observed in classrooms showing that a teacher’s anticipated judgments about students will cause them to become true. (more…)

Exemplary

“Little Corsaire”
Hungarian National Ballet Institute and Hungarian National Ballet
Eiffel Art Studios
Budapest, Hungary
May 31, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. L.Berki, Z.E.Albert, and J.É.Pollák (Odalisques), “Little Corsaire” by O.Chernakova et al., Hungarian National Ballet Institute & Hungarian National Ballet 2024 © A.Nagy/Hungarian State Opera The best way to nurture young talent and groom a new generation of dance enthusiasts is a concern for many ballet companies. The Hungarian National Ballet and its affiliated Ballet Institute have pursued an impressive strategy to address this issue. Last weekend, they premiered the third children’s production in a row, Little Corsaire, at Eiffel Art Studios. The first series of four performances gave students of various ages ample opportunities to present their skills to the public, which at this premiere consisted of family, friends, and many young children with their parents. The scenes that I observed in the atrium during the break proved that the project has yielded the desired results. Toddlers copied dance steps, and girls—already wearing tutus upon arrival—bounced about excitedly. In a corner behind the old steam locomotive (reminiscent of the venue’s historic role as Northern Railway Maintenance and Engineering Works), the young artists posed for photos with even younger admirers. Some children’s eyes were shining, and hopefully, some of those youngsters will be drawn to the ballet barre too. (more…)

Plainly, Art

“La Strada”
Prague Chamber Ballet
Vinohrady Theatre
Prague, Czech Republic
May 26, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. B.Müllerová (Gelsomina), O.Neumannová and L.Muzajeva (Sisters), and M.Dorková (Mother); “La Strada” by J.Bubeníček, Prague Chamber Ballet 2024 © S.Gherciu 2. E.Zappalà (Zampano), “La Strada” by J.Bubeníček, Prague Chamber Ballet 2024 © S.GherciuIt was only a matter of time until Otto and Jiří Bubeníček were drawn back to their family legacy—the circus. Perhaps because they are identical twins, they both chose to tackle Federico Fellini’s film La Strada which, by the way, premiered seventy years ago. Yet, they didn’t work together. While Otto designed sets and costumes for Natália Horečná’s ballet La Strada (starring Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg, and Mick Zeni) at Sadler’s Wells, Jiří choreographed La Strada for the Prague Chamber Ballet. I wasn’t able to watch Horečná’s version in London (I also missed Marco Goecke’s La Strada for Munich’s Gärtnerplatz Theatre in 2018) but had the chance to see Jiří’s work in Prague. He collaborated with, among others, his wife, Nadina Cojocaru, on the libretto and dramaturgy. Cojocaru was also in charge of set and costume design. (more…)

Soul Food

“Coppélia”
Czech National Ballet
The State Opera
Prague, Czech Republic
May 26, 2024 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Svobodník (Dr. Coppélius) and ensemble, “Coppélia” by R.Hydn after A.Saint-Léon and M.Petipa, Czech National Ballet 2024 © M.Divíšek Arthur Saint-Léon’s comic ballet Coppélia premiered on May 25, 1870, at the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra in Paris. Two months later, on July 19th, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia. The opening night featured a military dance portraying twelve Ottoman Janissaries fencing against twelve Austrian Hussars. It concluded with a ballerina holding an olive branch heralding peace. Times were anything but auspicious during the descent of the Second French Empire, but that wasn’t reflected in the ballet. To the contrary, Léo Delibes’s vibrant score infused the comedy with a buoyant joie de vivre. Might it be a stroke of fate that now of all times, as the political landscape darkens with mind-boggling speed and social cohesion is worn down (at least in my home country, Germany), the Czech National Ballet premiered Coppélia? The Prague audience’s warm reception proved that the ballet still conveys what people are yearning for in times of crisis: togetherness, good humor, generosity, and a romance with a happy ending. (more…)

TV Talent Scouts

“Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia
“Большой Балет” (Bolshoi Ballet), Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia
May 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Matevosyan (host), A.Haxverdyan, L.Hakobyan, M.Mkhitaryan, G.Karapetyan (jury), A.Julhakyan (jury), A.Davtyan (Shant TV), H.Ghukasyan (director and producer), S.Mikayelyan (jury), T.Mnoyan (jury), A.Khangeldyan, S.Margaryan, M.Babayan, S.Barseghyan (host); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TVWhile German TV programs rarely promote the art of dance, dance is part and parcel of media abroad. The sequels of two dance competitions—Ազգային պարեր (Azgayin Parer/National Dances) on Shant TV, Armenia, and Большой Балет (Bolshoi Ballet) on Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia—were broadcast recently. Both competitions are textbook examples of how to foster talent while simultaneously nourishing and cherishing dance culture.

Folk dance is a pillar of Armenia’s culture, and the Armenian State Barekamutyun Dance Ensemble has presented it professionally since 1987. Its founder and artistic adviser, Norayr Mehrabyan, is the father of Arsen Mehrabyan, who made his career on Western ballet stages. Shant TV’s first run of a folk dance competition reinforces the status of national dance. (more…)

Fifty-Fifty

“Maillot/León & Lightfoot”
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
May 04, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Jean-Christophe Maillot © Felix Dol Maillot 2. Sol León © Tommy Pascal 3. Paul Lightfoot © Elena Lekhova The Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg’s new double bill combines Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Les Noces (2022 version) with Stop-Motion (2014) by Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. Both pieces have now entered the repertory of a German company for the first time. (more…)

Intense

“Romeo and Juliet”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
April 04, 2024 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Efremov (Montague's Servant), I.Alexeyev (Benvolio), M.Lobukhin (Tybalt), and ensemble; “Romeo and Juliet” by L.Lavrovsky, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet / D.YusupovIn early April, the Bolshoi Ballet revived Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, which senior balletomanes may remember from the company’s famous tours of London and the Met in the 1950s and ‘60s. Galina Ulanova, Raisa Strutchkova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Maris Liepa, and many others wrote ballet history dancing the leading roles. I couldn’t attend the premiere in Moscow but was finally able to watch a video of the opening night. It made me wonder why the production had been dropped from the schedule. (more…)

Laureates of the XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 27, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Awardees, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov Last weekend, Perm’s ten-day Ballet Competition Arabesque closed with two gala concerts performed by laureates and diploma winners. Many were Russians, but young dancers from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Armenia, Brazil, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and Great Britain also won awards. Thanks to many live streams, dance enthusiasts could easily follow the tournament. Saturday’s gala was the last broadcast and again presented by Aleksandra Domracheva. The first half was reserved for the award ceremony; during the second half, twenty-two of the thirty-nine prize winners performed a mixed program of solos and pas de deux. Treasures from the video archive from previous laureates and a well-made backstage video filmed during this year’s contemporary performance were shown during the break. Sunday’s gala had a different program, which included further awardees. (more…)

Retrospects

“To the Point(e)” (“Within the Golden Hour”/“Autodance”/”Vers Un Pays Sage”)
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum
Monte-Carlo, Monaco
April 27, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Vers un Pays Sage” by J.-C.Maillot, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo 2024 © A.Blangero The new triple bill of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo spans thirty or so years of ballet history. Its earliest ballet—Vers Un Pays Sage (1995)—is by the company’s artistic director, Jean-Christophe Maillot. Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour premiered in 2008 at the San Francisco Ballet. The most recent piece, Sharon Eyal’s and Gai Behar’s Autodance was created for the GöteborgsOperan in 2018.

Vers Un Pays Sage (“To a Wise Country”) is a tribute to Maillot’s father, Jean, a professor of the fine arts, painter, and set and costume designer who died prematurely. Pays Sage was the title of his last exhibition. He has been described as a workaholic with an excessive zest for life, and I conclude from the ballet that he must have had an upbeat, bright nature, brimming full of spirit. Six men and six women successfully conveyed the energy of this fireball of an artist on stage, driven by the pulse of John Adam’s Fearful Symmetries. (more…)

XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque – 2024 named after Ekaterina Maximova

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 17, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov “Perm is remarkable in that it’s Ballet Lovers’ Society initiated the first Russian ballet competition,” stated Russia’s dance icon, Vladimir Vasiliev. Though it was mainly an event for young Russian dancers at its inauguration in 1988, four years later, the biannual Arabesque Competition welcomed participants from the U.S.A. and Japan. In 1996, the same Ballet Lovers’ Society coaxed Vasiliev and his wife, Ekaterina Maximova (1939-2009)—Russia’s most prestigious ballet couple—to lead the jury. (Notably, Arabesque has a two-tier jury consisting of renowned dancers and ballet and theater critics.) In addition, Vasiliev became its artistic director. This year’s run is dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the birth of Maximova.

At the opening gala concert, director, Elena Zavershinskaya, recalled how Arabesque has grown: “Over the years, the spectrum of prizes increased thanks to generous donations and so did the amount of countries that participated. We used to have dancers from 8-9 countries and were quite happy with that. Seventy applicants were a big figure; eighty were many. Once we had one-hundred applicants and were so excited! Now, however, young talents from nineteen countries participate, among them dancers from twenty-three regions of Russia. This year we received a record-high of 266 applications!” (more…)

Incomprehensible

“The Lady of the Camellias”
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
March 24, 2024, (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. Ensemble, “The Lady of the Camellias” by J.Neumeier, Vienna State Ballet 2024 © Vienna State Ballet/A.TaylorShouts of “Bravi!” mingled with enthusiastic applause after the curtain closed on John Neumeier’s The Lady of the Camellias last Sunday at the Vienna State Opera. I, who was following the performance on screen, was less happy. Being familiar with this piece as it was performed by other companies, I felt that this premiere left a lot to be desired.

To begin with, the choreography—almost forty-five years after its creation—suffers from the same mannerisms present in large parts of Neumeier’s oeuvre. The tools that he uses to express his protagonists’ inner life are repetitive. For example, books, confectionery, and bunches of flowers slipped from the dancers’ grip to signal astonishment or absent-mindedness. The number of people who stumbled, fell, barged into one another, and ran around precipitously was remarkable. As in other Neumeier-ballets, the buffoon (in this case, Count N., whom Géraud Wielick turned into an especially silly specimen of jealous lover) wore glasses. That Neumeier intertwined Marguerite and Armand’s fate with that of Manon Lescaut—a connection that is inherent in Alexandre Dumas’s novel—would be ingenious if the relevant scenes were less mawkish and didactic. (more…)