As a contrast to the dark February gloom outside, the Opera House and the Erkel Theatre have sensational productions in which to immerse yourself, like falling into a hidden world of enchantment and beauty. There isn’t, however, a promise of a perfect ending, certainly not for “Manon Lescaut”, but then where would the finest art be if there were a happy-ever-after?
Manon Lescaut, the beautiful tragic ballet with the haunting score and mesmerising dance, returns after nearly a year’s absence to the Opera House. Although Puccini and Massenet both composed a different score for “Manon Lescaut” as an opera, MacMillan opted for Massenet’s music for the ballet.
Each composer had a heart and soul for tragedy, and the story of “Manon” is nothing less than tragedy of the highest order. What makes the ballet so vital, so strong, is the storyline, which charts the fall of beautiful Manon into destitution and eventual death. Whether performed as a ballet or opera, it will remain with you long after the curtains close.
MacMillan’s ballet was highly controversial when it first opened in 1974 because it strayed from traditions of classical ballet and contained what many critics viewed as an “immoral” plot line, more suited to dramatic intense opera than graceful delicate ballet.
The Hungarian National Ballet’s production remains faithful to MacMillan through the use of costume design and scenery. Although the score is essentially Massenet, the music is more of a mosaic of the composer’s other operas, re-orchestrated by Martin Yates.
Also long-awaited by lovers of tragedy is the premiere of “La bohème 2.0” in the Erkel Theatre. After the frosted and seasonal Christmas production of “La bohème” with its beauty and pain and sensational set design, “La bohème 2.0” is withholding secrets; a golden, glittering production ready to be revealed at the premiere, essentially Puccini but with a highly modern slant.
The production is directed by highly renowned Damiano Michieletto, set in contemporary Paris and based on Kálmán Nádasdy’s original 1937 direction but with Michieletto’s own spin. It is difficult to mention a modernisation of Puccini’s classic opera without making reference to the highly successful Broadway musical “Rent”, based loosely on the plot line of
“Rent”, updated to 1980s New York with artists struggling to stay warm and pay the rent, attracts lovers and loathers in equal measure, but the traces of Puccini’s magic ghost through this high-energy musical both in the score and the characters themselves.
“La bohème 2.0” is a long-awaited mystery; its premiere next week will open a music box full of wonderful and magical treasure.
Andrássy út 22, District VI
Friday February 19 to Friday March 18
“La bohème 2.0”
Erkel Theatre, II János Pál Pápa tér 30, District VIII
Friday February 19 to Thursday March 3
Tickets and information: www.jegymester.hu/eng