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ABT's "Onegin" - June 2nd Matinee


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#1 Colleen Boresta

Colleen Boresta

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Posted 04 June 2001 - 06:32 PM

I decided to start a new thread, and not put my ideas about "Onegin" on the same thead as
"The Merry Widow". I don't want to get into the subject of whether or not "Onegin" is a serious ballet. I have no expertise on that subject. Basically, I just know what I like, and I was extremely moved by the "Onegin" performance I saw. (I was even crying at the end, a sure sign a ballet has really affected me.)

I thought Cranko's choreography was good overall, and it was superb (IMO anyway) for the two duets between Onegin and Tatiana (Act I, scene II and Act III, scene II.) The Tchaikovsky music was arrangd well, not that I'm an expert on musical arrangment at all. I know it's not the the Tchaikovsky music used for the opera "Eugene Onegin", but since I've never seen that opera or heard the music that didn't affect me.

The best thing about the ballet were the performances of Irina Dvorovenko as Tatiana and Gillaume Graffin as Onegin. I've known that Dvorovenko was a superb dancer, but I was overwhelmed by her acting in "Onegin". She gave a performance of raw power and emotion. In Dvorovenko's hands, Tatiana matured from an innocent girl hopelessly in love with a sophisicated nobleman into a young wife who stayed faithful to her husband and sent Onegin away when he finally realized he loved her. Through her superb acting, Dvorovenko made it clear how much Tatiana's dismissal of Onegin cost her.

As wonderful as Dvorovenko was, I think Graffin was even better. His acting was so strong that it was always clear what Onegin was thinking. Through his gestures and especially through his facial expressions, Graffin showed us the bored and disdainful Onegin of Act I and the guilt-stricken nobleman who killed his best friend in a duel that friend forced upon him. As good as Graffin was in Acts I and II, his best acting was reserved for Act II. The way Onegin snuck longing looks at Tatiana and then turned away during the ballroom scene was very moving. The final scene was extremely powerful as danced by Dvorovenko and Graffin. Their acting was infused with both passion and desperation.

Ethan Stiefel as Onegin's friend Lensky, and
Ashley Tuttle as his fiancee, Olga, danced very well, especially in the first act. But their characters weren't nearly as fleshed out as those of Onegin and Tatiana. I think that has more to do with the choreography than the abilities of the dancers. I couldn't figure out why Olga would flirt with Onegin (during the Act II ball) when she saw how much it upset Lensky. And why would Lensky challenge Onegin to a duel over such a trivial matter? Was he just a hot-blooded extremely foolish young man? Or was there some other reason I didn't pick up on. Brian Reeder was okay as Prince Gremlin, the man Tatiana married. He was a good partner in the Act III ballroom scene. But to me he seemed too young for the part. And I didn't see much evidence that he cared deeply for Tatiana.

All in all I thought it was a beautiful production of "Onegin". And I will long long remember the powerfully devastating performances of Irina Dvorovenko and Guillaume Graffin.

#2 Sonja

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Posted 06 June 2001 - 10:31 AM

Hi Colleen,
glad you caught such a great leading couple for your first "Onegin"! It's one of my very favourite ballets, and definitely my favourite one of Cranko. I also adore the "bedroom/dream pdd" (isn't that "mirror" incredible?!) and the final pdd moves me to tears if danced and acted well...
In regards to Olga and Lenski - well, they are probably not as deeply portrayed as Tatiana and Onegin, but I feel there is a lot in them as well - a lot I have only discovered with very few casts. In fact, I believe these two roles are highly under-estimated.
If Olga is well portrayed, she is the one who causes all the trouble... I don't think of her as an innocent nice one - bit similar to Bianca in "Taming of the Shrew". And Lenski reminds me always a bit of Hilarion in Giselle - but maybe because my favourite dancer here in Munich is so good in both roles... Lenski really loves Olga but does not know how to cope with her flirting way. And his solo before the duel can be one of the most sad moments in the whole ballet if danced with the right feeling. It's as if he feels that he will die and says good-bye to life in his dance.
Another note to "Onegin": It's one of those ballets I don't get tired of watching as there are so many details... Take for example the "formal" dance in Act II, when the "old" people try to join the young ones, how embarrassed the old ladies become when their husbands ask young girls to dance - and how they then suffer from backaches etc...
Hope more of you will enjoy this masterpiece - and I can't wait for RB to perform it!


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