International ballet stars Alina Cojocaru & Johan Kobborg to guest star in The Australian Ballet’s Sydney season of Manon
Two of ballet’s brightest stars, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg will join The Australian Ballet as guest artists this April for the Sydney season of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon.
Cojocaru and Kobborg will dance in two performances: the evenings of Saturday 19 and Tuesday 22 April at Sydney Opera House following the opening of Manon on 3 April.
As principal artists of The Royal Ballet in London their partnership flourished for more than a decade before they took their final bow with the company in June 2013. As guest artists they have danced with leading ballet companies across the world including American Ballet Theatre and Hamburg Ballet; however this will be the first time the pair will dance with an Australian ballet company.
The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister said that Cojocaru and Kobborg’s partnership is considered one of the greatest. “We’re thrilled that Australian audiences will have the chance to see Alina and Johan perform alongside our world-class dancers in a ballet that they have performed all around the globe. They have the sort of mystique of a modern day Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn and Manon is the perfect ballet for their guest appearance – an epic production and love tragedy featuring breathtakingly beautiful pas de deux.”
An utterly compelling story, Manon follows the downfall of a young beauty who goes from being a courtesan in the salons of Paris to a fugitive in the steamy swamps of Louisiana. Based on Abbé Prévost’s classic novel and created for The Royal Ballet in 1974, Manon will transport audiences to an 18th-century world of debauchery as the heroine makes her choice between love and diamonds.
Peter Farmer’s opulent sets and costumes bring MacMillan’s vision of Paris to life. Rich brocades, glittering jewels and luxurious salons feature alongside prison cells and ominous swamps in this riches-to-rags tale.
A ballet that every dancer dreams of performing, it offers an array of career-making roles: the complex Manon; the tender and loyal des Grieux; Manon’s vile brother Lescaut; and his vampy mistress. It’s all set to a romantic Jules Massenet score arranged by Martin Yates. The music accompanies the dancers through the intoxicating heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair. Sir Kenneth MacMillan is the undisputed master of romantic pas de deux. The bedroom scene for Manon is considered one of the most poignant love duets in 20th-century ballet.
On her way to a convent, Manon falls in love with a student, Des Grieux, but is drawn into the life of luxury he cannot offer by an elderly rich man, Monsieur GM. Seduced by the lure of furs and jewels, Manon slips away from her first love, setting a course that will unravel her life and end in tragedy. The leading choreographer of his generation, MacMillan made his mark creating story ballets that moved beyond the realm of sylphs and princes to a more complex and harsh reality.
MacMillan was a founding member of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet and later Director of the Royal Ballet in London. His repertoire of more than 60 ballets has been performed by some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies.
MacMillan died suddenly backstage at the Royal Opera House in 1992 at The Royal Ballet’s opening of his work Mayerling. His Australian-born wife Lady Deborah MacMillan continues to oversee productions of his work.
Choreography Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Music Jules Massenet
arranged and orchestrated by Martin Yates
Costume and set design Peter Farmer
Original lighting design William Akers
Sydney (20 performances)
3 – 23 April
Joan Sutherland Theatre,
Sydney Opera House
with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra