Manon’s difficult reversal in affection, from true love to the lure of wealth was complicated by a hint of seductive wiles in her meeting with Monsieur G.M but was somewhat redeemed with her sorrowful backward glance as she leaves Des Grieux’s lodgings draped in furs and jewels.
Manon only gets to fully understand the danger and cruelty that surrounds her in the final act when the vulnerability of her fragile body is evident. Des Grieux, his decency manifest in the poetic solos that MacMillan has created, is also little match for the corruption and his bungling attempt to cheat at cards is a sorry fiasco. Their final duet, lost, destitute and stripped of their fine clothes brings them to the essence of their love. It is a true tragedy but a rip-roaring tale.
The opening image has Lescaut, Manon’s brother, seated centre stage draped in a black cloak like a spider in the middle of the web waiting to trap the weak and unwitting. Dawid Kupinski, after an uncharacteristically shaky start, quicky got into gear to deliver a devilish performance.
The ‘drunken’ duet with his Mistress, Desislava Stoeva, was a treat of near misses and catches. Stoeva had a true grasp of the character, able to charm and perform to order but with acute understanding of the venality of her demi-monde existence.