I am not a balletomane, rather my great passion is opera, so I approached the live cinema transmission of Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s three-act ballet with some cynicism. I was convinced that its dramatic story could never be as well visualised by body language as its plot is conveyed by the power of both music and libretto in Puccini’s opera Manon Lescaux, and by Jules Massenet’s own opera, the music of which accompanies Macmillans’ brilliant choreography.

How wrong I was. Knowing the tragic end to the story, I was not prepared to find myself, stifling a sob when the heroine (the magnificent Sarah Lamb) slowly dies in the swamps of Louisiana, as her heartbroken lover des Grieux (the equally brilliant Russian dancer Vadim Muntagiriov), desperately cradling her gaunt rag-doll body, tries in vain to revive her – every bit as shattering as the impassioned singing of the operas.

Significantly, had I been present in the opera house, and therefore at a distance from the dancers, I would not have had the advantage of close-up camera work, which allowed one to contemplate painfully every emotion and nuance on the faces of the dancers. Nonetheless, even if one was seated high in the amphitheatre of the opera house, one could not have failed to be astonished by the drama’s vivid interpretation by a brilliant cast.

Manon’s brother Lescaux (the amazing dancer Ryoichi Hirano) at the beginning of the story has introduced his naive young sister Manon, fresh from the country, to corrupt Parisian society. His exploitation of her is the cause of her downfall, arrest, and deportation. Despite her love for the poet des Grieux, she cannot resist the riches piled upon her by her elderly patron, worldly and sinister Monsieur G.M (wonderfully realised by Gary Avis). A totally spell-binding evening.