This video was recorded live at performances of the original version of 'Dardanus' (1739) given at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux in April 2015, in a production by Michel Fau and choreography by Christopher Williams. Raphaël Pichon, the Ensemble Pygmalion and a peerless line-up of soloists received unanimous acclaim from public and press alike. “van Mechelen rises splendidly to his major dramatic interventions and Florian Sempey as his rival Antenor is commanding and resonant. Michael Fau’s production with effective use of gesture and dance, and Emanuel Charles’s highly coloured, stately sets make for a very handsome visual presentation … Pygmalion provides vigorous and expert orchestral accompaniment, and Raphael Pichon’s assured direction secures superb coordination with the soloists and the firmly focused chorus.” (BBC Music Magazine)
In 1974, British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan in turn decided to focus on the two protagonists for an ambitious ballet that could translate the feelings and emotions of two souls abused by the accidents of life and their own personal weaknesses. In short, how a young girl on her way to a convent manages to elope with the young student with whom she has just fallen in love, only to leave him to escape destitution and finally allow herself to be persuaded by her brother Lescaut to yield to the advances of wealthy “protectors”. Accused of prostitution and deported to Louisiana, Manon is rescued by Des Grieux. Driven to murder by Manon’s jailer, he escapes with her into the marshes where the young girl ultimately succumbs. Although sincere, the love that Manon and Des Grieux share for each other cannot stand up to the vagaries of existence. As a result, neither is able to escape moral or social decline. Rather than reuse the score of Massenet’s opera, MacMillan entrusted Leighton Lucas with the task of arranging a series of extracts taken from a selection of the French composer’s operatic, symphonic and vocal scores… The end result was a huge success from its debut performance in London in 1974 onwards.