Live Cinema Season

Manon (2014)

Recorded | Ballet

Running time: To be confirmed

Manon (2014)

Kenneth MacMillan’s acclaimed tragic ballet is a modern masterpiece.


The story

Manon’s brother Lescaut is offering her to the highest bidder when she meets Des Grieux and falls in love. They elope to Paris, but when Monsieur G.M. offers Manon a life of luxury as his mistress she can’t resist.

With the Lescauts’ encouragement Des Grieux cheats at cards in an attempt to win Monsieur G.M.’s fortune. They are caught. Manon is arrested as a prostitute and deported to New Orleans, followed by Des Grieux. On the run, Manon dies from exhaustion.


Kenneth MacMillan’s source for Manon was the 18th-century French novel by Abbé Prévost, already adapted for opera by Massenet and Puccini. Renowned dance musician Leighton Lucas and his assistant Hilda Gaunt provided a score drawn from across Massenet’s music, including his famous yearning Elégie as the theme for the lovers. The premiere was given on 7 March 1974, with the lead roles of Manon and Des Grieux danced by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell. The ballet quickly became a staple of The Royal Ballet’s repertory, and a touchstone of adult, dramatic dance.

MacMillan found new sympathy with the capricious Manon and her struggle to escape poverty. Designs by his regular collaborator Nicholas Georgiadis reflect this, depicting a world of lavish splendour polluted by miserable destitution. MacMillan’s spectacular ensemble scenes for the whole Company create vivid, complex portraits of the distinct societies of Paris and New Orleans. But it is Manon and Des Grieux’s impassioned pas de deux – recalling the intensity of MacMillan’s earlier Romeo and Juliet – that drive this tragic story, and make Manon one of MacMillan’s most powerful dramas.



The Royal Ballet


Kenneth MacMillan


Jules Massenet


Martin Yates


Nicholas Georgiadis

Lighting designer

Jacopo Pantani


Martin Yates
Marianela Nuñez
Des Grieux
Federico Bonelli
Ricardo Cervera
Monsieur G.M.
Christopher Saunders
Lescaut’s Mistress
Laura Morera
Elizabeth McGorian
Gary Avis
Beggar Chief
James Hay
Old Gentleman
Philip Mosley
Concert Master
Peter Schulmeister
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

News and features

To find out more visit the Manon (2014) production page.