Regarded as one of Kenneth MacMillan’s most iconic works, Manon is a quintessential romantic tragedy, following the tale of a young French peasant girl conflicted by love and yearning to be free from poverty.
A blockbuster ballet only promised to a select few companies, Queensland Ballet will deliver this $1.5 million production over 12 performances to 16,000 audience goers across two weeks at the Lyric Theatre, no doubt a massive endeavour for the company.
Lady Deborah MacMillan, widow and keeper of the estate of the esteemed choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, has arrived in Australia this week to oversee the final touches of Manon.
Speaking from Brisbane, Lady MacMillan said she’s had nothing but good reports from the two stagers, Julie Lincoln and Robert Tewsley, who have been working with Queensland Ballet on the production.
“I hear from Julie and Robert that they’re thrilled to bits and they’re very hard to please, so that’s as good as anything really,” said Lady MacMillan.
“And I know Li and Mary are very happy with what’s happening. And the company wants to do it, and that’s always a blessing when you have a bunch of people who are keen and that’s what’s happening here.”
She praised Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO for the work he has done over the past decade to elevate the company from humble beginnings to an international success story delivering high standards time and time again.
“This company’s gone from something very tiny, to now it’s become an international company. Manon is something that needs to be done by large classical companies and not all of them get a chance to do it. I think Queensland Ballet’s proved more than once, it’s right up there with the big companies worldwide,” Lady MacMillan concluded.
It is a prestigious honour to be given these rights to Manon, a work performed by companies such as The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and other internationally renowned companies, and this production will solidify Queensland Ballet’s position as a world-class ballet company.
Despite having retired as a professional dancer in 1999, Mr Li is stepping back onto the stage in the role of Monsieur G.M for three shows.
“Rehearsals are going really well and it’s wonderful to rehearse and work with our wonderful dancers, but I have to say I’ve put my body through some pretty difficult times,” he said.
A lot of soreness and dealing with old injuries because this role involves a lot of partnering and a lot of lifts, but I have to say I’m loving it. I can’t wait to perform the ballet.”
Mr Li will be joined on stage by his wife, Queensland Ballet Principal Répétiteur and Ballet Mistress, Mary Li. She said it’s a stunning production to watch – moving, heartbreaking and beautiful all in one.
“The music, the storytelling, the intrigue, the drama, the dancing – it has everything in it. Every dancer in the world wants to be in this ballet, they want to dance this ballet,” she said.
“Every company wants to have this ballet, so we’re very lucky to be given this opportunity by Lady Deborah MacMillan… We’re all very excited and cannot wait, so please come.”
The Company has also secured world-renowned ballerina, Alina Cojocaru to perform the role of Manon with Queensland Ballet for two select performances commencing 5 October.
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Season: 28 September – 8 October 2022
For more information, visit: www.queenslandballet.com.au for details.
Image: Queensland Ballet presents Manon (supplied)