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Onegin - Spring 2012


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#16 Birdsall

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:53 AM


Now Pushkin's Onegin is a complex character - he is young, very bored and Tatiana's actions are actually very aggressive for a woman of that time. The woman, especially a virtuous young one, is not supposed to take the initiative with a man. And for a woman of her class a declaration of love means marriage - something that Onegin at that time - dependent on a sick uncle - cannot decide for himself. So his cool return of the letter could be seen not as a callous rejection but a brotherly admonition from someone who at that time is not interested in or able to enter into marriage.


In Pushkin, the uncle is dead and Onegin is rich by the time Onegin and Tatiana meet. Also, in Pushkin, he never returns her letter. He keeps it until the end of the novel.


The novel/poem is very different. I have only read it in English, but my memory is that at the end Tatyana has moved on completely and finds his declaration of love at the end almost silly and sad b/c it is from a totally different time in her life. The gist is that she's grown up and moved on, while he has realized her worth and how she is now higher in status than he is and now finds her amazing. Maybe I have this wrong, but that is my memory. Tchaikovsky's opera and the Onegin ballet sentimentalizes the story and makes Tatyana basically regret the missed opportunity in life and still has love for him. I actually prefer the Pushkin ending (if my memory serves me correctly). It is more devastating to Onegin, b/c he doesn't have a chance with her at that point, and Tatyana gets sweet revenge! LOL

#17 Birdsall

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:55 AM

But what makes her revenge all the better is that she's not trying to get revenge. She's simply grown up and moved on and has no feelings for him. That is my memory of the poem.

#18 abatt

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:35 PM

I've only seen the opera at the Met Opera, with Dimitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin and Renee Fleming. I enjoyed the performances and the opera very much and was very moved by the acting. Hvorostovsky, in particular, was perfect for Onegin. I understand that Netrebko may be a future Met Tatiana.

#19 Ilya

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:42 PM

FauxPas and Bart, Henry Spalding’s translation of Pushkin’s novel is part of Project Gutenberg:
http://www.gutenberg...997/pg23997.txt
Charles Johnston’s translation can also be found online.

Chapter 1, stanza XLVI says that his uncle was dead by the time Onegin arrived from St Petersburg.

Chapter 8 (last chapter), stanza XX says that he kept Tatyana’s letter.

Sorry Bart, your recollection of the final scene from Pushkin is wrong. When Onegin enters, she is weeping over his letter (Chapter 8, Stanza XXXIX). In the final scene (stanzas XXXIX-XLVII) she admits that she still loves him.


#20 Drew

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 03:06 PM

Would love to hear about Seo-Hallberg cast if anyone sees it...

#21 angelica

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 03:29 PM

Would love to hear about Seo-Hallberg cast if anyone sees it...

Also Dvorovenko-Stearns, please.

#22 Birdsall

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:09 PM

I've only seen the opera at the Met Opera, with Dimitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin and Renee Fleming. I enjoyed the performances and the opera very much and was very moved by the acting. Hvorostovsky, in particular, was perfect for Onegin. I understand that Netrebko may be a future Met Tatiana.


Tatyana's Letter Scene is the best. It is a fairly unusual scene (very long and almost more arioso after arioso as opposed to a structured aria), but it is very touching. Netrebko is trying to take on more grown up roles and get away from the Adina and Norina type roles. I rather like Netrebko.....nice, dark sound....she'd probably make a great Tatyana.

#23 Birdsall

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:18 PM

FauxPas and Bart, Henry Spalding's translation of Pushkin's novel is part of Project Gutenberg:
http://www.gutenberg...997/pg23997.txt
Charles Johnston's translation can also be found online.

Chapter 1, stanza XLVI says that his uncle was dead by the time Onegin arrived from St Petersburg.

Chapter 8 (last chapter), stanza XX says that he kept Tatyana's letter.

Sorry Bart, your recollection of the final scene from Pushkin is wrong. When Onegin enters, she is weeping over his letter (Chapter 8, Stanza XXXIX). In the final scene (stanzas XXXIX-XLVII) she admits that she still loves him.


I did go to Wikipedia and read the summary and noticed that I am mistaken, but for some reason I remember a much less anguished response. I wonder why. Maybe it was my state of mind when I read it. I do think that she was a lot more steadfast and less anguished than the opera or ballet, but maybe again that was just my interpretation of what I read. Maybe the poem conveys the societal constraints a little more whereas the opera and ballet focuses more on the romance. Who knows? For some reason the way I read the poem years ago (when I was barely out of college and now I am 45) was that there was absolutely no way she was going to start an affair with him, whereas in the opera and ballet you think Onegin has a chance of succeeding. Don't know why I felt that way. I will have to go back and reread.
The one leitmotif that I wish Cranko would have used in the music was Tatyana's "Are you a devil or an angel?" theme when she writes her letter. It is one of the most beautiful themes in music. I understand why they wanted to use other music so that the ballet does not compete so much with the opera, but that one theme should have been used.

#24 abatt

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:51 PM

Tonight was another memorable, heartbreaking night of Onegin. Vishneva and Gomes were enthralling - especially in the final gut wrenching scene. I also thought that Jared Mathews added some more nuance to his role as Lensky compared to MOnday night. Peter Martins was in the audience, checking out the competition.

#25 Ilya

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:57 PM

I do think that she was a lot more steadfast and less anguished than the opera or ballet, but maybe again that was just my interpretation of what I read. Maybe the poem conveys the societal constraints a little more whereas the opera and ballet focuses more on the romance. Who knows? For some reason the way I read the poem years ago (when I was barely out of college and now I am 45) was that there was absolutely no way she was going to start an affair with him, whereas in the opera and ballet you think Onegin has a chance of succeeding.

This is correct. Tatyana of the book is quite a bit different from the opera and ballet. She is absolutely very steadfast in the book, and it is very clear that there is no possibility of an affair (he unsuccessfully pursues her for several months before their final meeting). However, it is also very clear that she loves him---this makes the final chapter very moving.

#26 Batsuchan

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:15 PM

Tonight was another memorable, heartbreaking night of Onegin. Vishneva and Gomes were enthralling - especially in the final gut wrenching scene. I also thought that Jared Mathews added some more nuance to his role as Lensky compared to MOnday night. Peter Martins was in the audience, checking out the competition.


Completely agree abatt! Vishneva & Gomes were astounding, and you could tell they knew it during the bows--still so caught up in the emotion!

While EVERY performance of theirs is a must-see event, in my opinion, they really do take it into the stratosphere when they get to do the same ballet twice in one week. I think anything they were unsatisfied with gets resolved in the second performance. Especially since Monday was their first time performing the ballet together, I felt like they figured out how they could do more this time. In particular, I felt like Diana was particularly audacious (the lady behind me called her crazy) in the Act I p.d.d. There is a part where Onegin is partnering her with one hand--he uses her left hand to support her as she whips from facing forward to back all while arching backwards--and Diana really threw herself into it as if 100% sure Marcelo would be able to support her, even with one hand!

My friend who went with me said it was all so exhilarating and would gladly have paid double!

So did the rest of the house, it seems. It was packed, with a few people in standing room, and the house positively erupted after Act III! Bravo!

ETA And I almost forgot to mention that the bows and curtain calls were great, as usual. Diana and Marcelo are always so affectionate toward each other--you can really tell that they love dancing together!

#27 Ceeszi

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 02:42 AM

Last night was absolutely incredible!

I actually was worried about Diana - she looked like she was going to faint at the end of the ballet. She and Marcelo gave everything they had in that last pas de deux and you could tell when she threw him out - it was a gut-wrenching decision. The look on Diana's face when she ripped up Marcelo's letter - WOW!

Like her Juliet, you could see her total transformation of character through her acting and her dancing. Her Tatiana goes from a shy bookish teenager to a young woman in love for the first time to a glamorous and sophisticated society wife who cares deeply for her husband (but seemingly without any passion).

Again - thank you Diana and Marcelo!

#28 puppytreats

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 11:47 AM

I saw the Julie Kent/Roberto Bolle performance last night. This ballet needs a lot of dramatic voltage from the dancers to make an exciting evening. It doesn't play itself. Kent and Bolle are lovely dancers but took too long to catch fire - it was too little, too late. Especially in comparison with Vishneva/Gomes on Tuesday night. Kent was lovely and wasn't unconvincing from a distance as a teenager. But her Act I and II Tatiana was very quiet and introverted without the intensely repressed emotion that Vishneva (and Haydée and Makarova and Ferri and...) brought to the role. She was shy, lyrical and small-scale. Very natural, truthful and subtle but not intense. I didn't get a sense of wild new emotions straining to break free. Whereas Vishneva suggested a rich inner life under the surface, Kent seemed dull and prim. The role's choreographic demands are well within Kent's current physical capabilities - there is not a lot of sustained dancing especially at the beginning. In the pas de deuxs she is lifted a lot.


Kent was flying during the lifts. I do not have familiarity with the mechanics, but from what I have read, the ballerina must perform a great deal of the work in a successful lift. If this is true, then she was in excellent form. Indeed, I thought she performed better than she did last year.

Perhaps Kent and Vishneval interpreted the role differently, If Kent did not display intense emotions initially, perhaps she was suggesting that they awoke or arose suddenly upon introduction to the stranger. Perhaps they remained buried in her subconscious mind, or were misunderstood until she faced Onegin. I have read articles separating the characteristics of shyness and intensity, but I agree with Vishneva that these qualities can co-exist. Nevertheless, Kent may have read her character as inexperienced and shy, with other, internalized feelings unrecognized and/or unexpressed.


Roberto Bolle basically has a warm, understated sympathetic personality on stage. Bolle is not the kind of performer who transforms himself into the character like Gomes or Bocca did. He works from his own very glamorous and charismatic personality and if it fits the role, then all is good. He is very much the Prince onstage - essentially gracious. He is imposing but unthreatening. His Albrecht is not really a cad and as Onegin he tried hard to be one but no cigar. In the first act, Bolle smiled too much especially when he is dancing with Tatiana - it is automatic with him, he is very much the gallant with his partners. His tall, dark good looks fit the Byronic image to perfection and his dancing was wonderfully clear, expansive and controlled. But the emotional darkness of the character wasn't there - he played the cruel actions but didn't seem to be feeling them or knowing where they come from. So what he did to Tatiana seemed random and offhand. It struck me that his temperment is better suited to Lensky but who would you cast as Onegin with him?

Now Pushkin's Onegin is a complex character - he is young, very bored and Tatiana's actions are actually very aggressive for a woman of that time. The woman, especially a virtuous young one, is not supposed to take the initiative with a man. And for a woman of her class a declaration of love means marriage - something that Onegin at that time - dependent on a sick uncle - cannot decide for himself. So his cool return of the letter could be seen not as a callous rejection but a brotherly admonition from someone who at that time is not interested in or able to enter into marriage. Cranko makes him into a sadistic male tease who enjoys leading Tatiana on and then cutting her dead.



Many writers discuss Onegin as a "bad guy" and complain they cannot view Gomes as "mean." This characterization seems too facile. Bolle interpreted Onegin in a nuanced, subtle, and complex manner. I do not know if this translated to the back of the theatre. He offered more information about the character than derived from the simplistic explanation contained in the program notes or by many critics and bloggers.

Tatiana's letter clearly troubled Onegin, as interpreted by Bolle. He did not know how to react to it. Faux Pas writes that Onegin was not in a position to consider courting or marrying Tatiana, based on his economic situation, and that the writing of a letter from a woman to a man posed a social problem at that time. Bolle showed that Onegin felt that her feelings and actions imposed a burden upon him, with which he did not want to have to deal. Onegin did not handle receipt of the letter or rejection of Tatiana well, with sufficient consideration or tenderness, but he may have lacked the intelligence, development of character, or experience to address it properly. Nevertheless, he did not act out of a motivation to engage in sadistic cruelty. Indeed, he did not display the indifference or carelessness that he showed to other women whose company he later breezed through and with whom he shared casual encounters later in the ballet. From his actions in the duel and with the letter, he seemed to be pained and frustrated at his inability to reach an easy resolution of difficult situations, and at even being faced with conflicts, problems, and challenges. That someone hurts another, through rejection or otherwise, does not demonstrate evil intentions. Onegin's failures demonstrate his flaws, but do not indicate he is evil. (Of course, this analysis assumes the character is a human being and not a metaphor.) Indeed, FauxPas offers an explanation that Onegin acted in a brotherly manner. This demonstrates concern, not an character that is beyond redemption. I do not know if I agree with this interpretation, but it is one of several that are more generous than many seem willing to consider.



Anyway both Kent and Bolle did their best work in the last act as the mature regal Tatiana and the repentant, truly amorous Onegin. Kent danced the Act III pas de deux with Prince Gremin with a swan-like grace and tenderness with beautiful supported promenades and arabesques. Kent also subtly suggested the conflicting emotions that tore Tatiana apart in the final scene with Onegin where she rejects him. Having more positive and vulnerable emotions to play worked to Bolle's favor and he seemed genuinely repentent and sincere. Suddenly the two seemed to be sparking off of each other and the emotion was at the right level. But then the ballet was over.


The first act pdd was breathtaking, moving, and astonishing. The dream quality and passionate love emanated from the stage. The dream sequence offered both dancers the positive emotions to display, which Faux Pas states well suit them. Indeed, this scene presented Bolle as the princely, handsome, romantic, dream hero and love interest.

The dance with Olga showed a selfish, playful, flirtatious character. In this case, Onegin demonstrated a carelessness toward Lensky, as he showed with the women with whom he had casual encounters, and lack of understanding of the depth of emotions or the impact of his actions upon Lensky, a poet with passionate feelings, as he demonstrated with Tatiana.

The third act pdd involved great vulnerability, openly and wildly expressed. As Faux Pas writes, the dancers express these emotions with great sincerity and passion, as well as technical strength.

Contrary to many writers,Tatiana's rejection of Onegin during this pdd did not involve revenge. She did not want to impose pain upon Onegin, or take any pleasure in Onegin's pain, Indeed, she plainly suffered her own, intense pain. Her success in life, at least from social and presumably economic standpoints, did not constitute "sweet revenge", as suggested elsewhere.


Just a note - all the lifts and partnering worked very well. The problem with their Letter/Dream Onegin pdd at the opening night gala was not only a lack of rehearsal but the stage was too shallow. Here Kent and Bolle were better rehearsed and had the whole stage to traverse whereas at the opening night gala they only had the front third of the Met stage to work with. Also I think this pas de deux needs to be rehearsed on the actual stage itself which it might not have been at the gala.


The performance on Wednesday night was much more intense and focused than at the gala. I think dancing the full ballet offered the opportunity to concentrate on the entire plot and character, which served the dancing. Also, the fouettes and fireworks of all the stars at the gala may have presented a bit of a distraction and created anxieties.

The rest of the cast was fine. Jared Matthews stepped in as Lensky again replacing Blaine Hoven and did well. In his Act III solo there were a few shaky moments which weren't present in his excellent opening night performance. Maria Riccetto was a good Olga with lovely clear footwork and turns but less ballon and vivacity than Osipova (a really hard act to follow). Roman Zhurbin was very sensitive and warm as Prince Gremin and an excellent partner. Martine Van Hamel as Mme. Larina and Nancy Raffa as the Nurse are always welcome presences on the stage and added a touch of character and class to their limited assignments. Decent but far from filled house.


Lensky's solo required greater clarity. The dancing or choreography did not convey Lensky's struggle at that point clearly enough.

#29 Birdsall

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:34 PM




Contrary to many writers,Tatiana's rejection of Onegin during this pdd did not involve revenge. She did not want to impose pain upon Onegin, or take any pleasure in Onegin's pain, Indeed, she plainly suffered her own, intense pain. Her success in life, at least from social and presumably economic standpoints, did not constitute "sweet revenge", as suggested elsewhere.





PuppyTreats,
I think you misread my comments about "sweet revenge." I was talking about the book, not the ballet. I specifically said the opera and the ballet are much more sentimental and Tatiana is much more anguished. The ballet clearly shows that Tatiana is very, very upset at having to tell Onegin that she can't be with him. My memory of the book was that Tatiana had moved on in life (financially, socially, personally) and it was "sweet revenge" (my own personal interpretation) without her meaning for it to be. I probably didn't explain myself well enough, but I never meant that she was out to get revenge on him or hurt him purposely.
But someone else corrected my memory of the book ending and said she does indeed state her love for Onegin in the book (poem). But we both agreed that it was much less anguished than in the opera or ballet. Thus, my memory of it being a lot more matter-of-fact tone like, "Sorry, but I've moved on!" It apparently wasn't the way I remember it, but that is the message I got 20 or more years ago from the poem/book/novel.
Just wanted to clarify, so that no one is confused, even if I was confused about the ending of the original story (book).
Bart

#30 Ilya

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 08:00 AM

I have a question about the music that accompanies the last two minutes of the mirror pas de deux. Does anyone know which specific piece it comes from? This theme is subsequently reprised during the final pas de deux, for about one minute---in the midst of "Francesca da Rimini"---just before Tatiana returns Onegin's letter. It sounds very familiar, but I'm unable to recall where it is from. This has been driving me insane for the last few days. Posted Image


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