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Onegin - Spring 2012


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#31 Batsuchan

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:52 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


According to this page, it's a duet scene from Tchaikovsky's "Romeo & Juliet":
http://www.theballet...0/09/17/onegin/

The most often employed passages come from The Seasons as well as the opera Cherevichki (The Tsarina’s Slippers, 1885). A duet from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet serves as basis for Tatiana and Onegin’s Act I Pas de Deux. The second movement of Francesca da Rimini can be heard in the Act III Pas de Deux.


Apparently it is rarely performed and was completed by Taneyev after Tchaikovsky's death:
http://www.musicweb-...gin_acd6048.htm

#32 Ilya

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:37 PM

Thanks, Batsuchan. Tchaikovsky has an Overture-Fantasy "Romeo and Juliet" which is performed often and is a complete work. He also has a sketch for a vocal duet (soprano + tenor) "Romeo and Juliet", which was completed by Taneyev. It is based on the Overture-Fantasy but also contains additional material. This additional material serves as the basis for the beginning of the mirror pas de deux from "Onegin". However, the music I was referring to---the last two minutes of the mirror pas de deux---is not from this duet. (All this can be verified through youtube which has at least one rendition of the "Duet of Romeo and Juliet".) I'm sure the last two minutes of the pdd are from something that's commonly performed, because they sound very familiar. This is what's so maddening about not being able to recall where they are from! Posted Image

#33 Ilya

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 02:50 PM

After several days of randomly searching through Tchaikovsky's works in my CD collection and on youtube, I found where it comes from. It's from Overture in F major, http://javanese.imsl...in_F_major2.pdf (starting on page 141).

#34 Fosca

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 12:37 AM

This is in Italian, but maybe it might help with some of the music themes:
http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=605

#35 abatt

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 06:42 AM

Having seen all four casts, Vishneva and Gomes were my favorite, for the reasons noted previously. My least favorite cast was Dvorovenko- Stearns. Dvorovenko was too confident and outgoing in the beginning. She could not develop the arc of the character from naive girl to sophisticated woman. She seemed sophisticated from the first entrance. Also, her performance looked completely scripted- never spontaneous. Cory Stears did well enough, although he is so young looking that when he comes back in the last act with gray hair it looked a bit comical. Simkin was the best danced Lensky of the run. He executed the choreography effortlessly. However, I was not impressed with his acting. Sara Lane was my second favorite Olga of the run (after Osipova). She can play the minx to the hilt, and she also played the tragic portions well. Her dancing was magnificent.

In the past I have found Hee Seo to be disappointing in lead roles. However, I thought she did an excellent job in this role. She is a very lyrical, expressive dancer. She obviously was a little too young to play a sophisticated society lady in the last act, but she danced beautifully. The look of disgust that she shot Onegin after he killed Lensky was priceless. In the final act, she and Hallberg were thrilling. Hallberg has such gorgeous technique and line, I felt that his was the best danced Onegin, but not the best in terms of characterization.

Doesn't every woman (and guy?) wish that Roberto Bolle came walking through their mirror? I thoroughly enjoyed his performance on all levels. The kinks that plagued his opening night performance w. Kent were gone. They worked together beautifully. The problem is that while Julie Kent did a very respectable job, I think she is a bit too reserved. Also, as mentioned above, she has difficulty with her arabesque, and her back isn't as flexible as the other women who performed the role. Therefore the choreography for Tatiana looked a little diminished compared to the other casts.

#36 angelica

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:41 AM

Thank you, abatt, for reporting on all four casts. I'm still recovering from my double-header of yesterday and completely agree with you about Hallberg-Seo and Dvorovenko-Stearns. Having seen only those two casts, I must say that Hallberg was breathtaking and compelling, almost demonic in his rejection of Tatiana and later desperation. Seo was ardent and fluid (the way I remember her in R&J), and I found her fine acting a nice surprise. And I completely agree that Dvorovenko did not create the arc from youthful adoration to maturity. I also felt her acting was contrived. To be fair, I think that the pairing of Dvorovenko and Stearns was unfortunate because he looks so youthful next to her sophistication before they even move a muscle.

For Olga-Lensky, however, I found Kajiya and Gorak just wonderful. Gorak has a beautiful line and executed the steps well and with confidence; Kajiya was light as a feature and pitch-perfect.

#37 ksk04

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 10:01 AM

This is in Italian, but maybe it might help with some of the music themes:
http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=605


Some of the music (including the two big pdd for Tatiana/Onegin) for the ballet appear on this CD: http://www.amazon.co...keywords=onegin


Thanks to all for the reviews; know that those of us who cannot be there appreciate it immensely!

#38 angelica

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 10:41 AM

For Olga-Lensky, however, I found Kajiya and Gorak just wonderful. Gorak has a beautiful line and executed the steps well and with confidence; Kajiya was light as a feature and pitch-perfect.

That should have been "light as a feather." As I said, I'm still recovering!

#39 Fosca

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 11:27 PM

Some of the music (including the two big pdd for Tatiana/Onegin) for the ballet appear on this CD: http://www.amazon.co...keywords=onegin


There is a recording of the whole ballet music, made some years ago by the Orchestra of Stuttgart State Theatre with conductor James Tuggle. I have no idea if it is available in the US, here's a link to amazon.de:

http://www.amazon.de...39399365&sr=8-1

Even if it is not complete, the Australian recording is much better.

#40 Ilya

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:14 AM

In the Tchaikovsky opera (which I know better than the novel), Onegin discusses the Uncle as if he is alive. Also, in both the opera and the ballet, Onegin returns Tatiana's letter.

The actual Russian text of the libretto of the opera does not make it clear whether the uncle is dead or alive. Also, the text does not have Onegin return the letter, but---inlike the book---does not mention that Onegin kept the letter. Therefore, the matter of whether to have him return the letter to Tatyana is up to the stage director in any particular production of the opera. However, having him return the letter would be inconsistent with his character in this part of the opera. In the first two acts, he is quite even-keeled, much like in the novel. On the contrary, the ballet's Onegin is highly prone to hysterics (as are most other characters in the ballet)---tearing the letter, ignoring Tatiana during a conversation, pushing her during the party, making a scene in public, etc. I doubt that such behavior was realistic for a gentleman of Onegin's background in the 1820s.

The libretto of the opera (in Russian) can be found here:
http://feb-web.ru/fe...br/lib-001-.htm

In general, the book is very short on hysterics. The opera introduces quite a bit of hysterics (e.g., the bizarre challenge to a duel in the midst of a party), but the ballet goes far beyond the opera, making caricatures of all the main characters from the book. I immensely enjoyed watching all the dancers (I attended Thursday's performance with Vishneva, Osipova, Gomes, and Matthews); however, the story at times gets so ridiculous that it was difficult to take it seriously. The fact that the choreography is often unmusical didn't help either.

This is in Italian, but maybe it might help with some of the music themes:
http://www.balletto....hp?articolo=605

Thanks! This article has a lot of information!

#41 Goldfish17

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 05:49 AM

In general, the book is very short on hysterics. The opera introduces quite a bit of hysterics (e.g., the bizarre challenge to a duel in the midst of a party), but the ballet goes far beyond the opera, making caricatures of all the main characters from the book. I immensely enjoyed watching all the dancers (I attended Thursday's performance with Vishneva, Osipova, Gomes, and Matthews); however, the story at times gets so ridiculous that it was difficult to take it seriously. The fact that the choreography is often unmusical didn't help either.


Absolutely agree.
I went to see Kent/Bolle performance, and having never seen this ballet before, I wish I did not read (and love) the actual poem.

I love the Pushkin's book, and it did not help me to enjoy performance at all.. I think if I did not read the poem, it would be easier to tolerate ridiculous ballet story. Also, costumes in Act I were laughable.. (why Tatiana and Olga are dressed as peasants??? Other girls of their circle are also dressed as peasants, while man are wearing proper evening attire. And vice versa during the peasant dance )

#42 Birdsall

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 06:15 AM


In general, the book is very short on hysterics. The opera introduces quite a bit of hysterics (e.g., the bizarre challenge to a duel in the midst of a party), but the ballet goes far beyond the opera, making caricatures of all the main characters from the book. I immensely enjoyed watching all the dancers (I attended Thursday's performance with Vishneva, Osipova, Gomes, and Matthews); however, the story at times gets so ridiculous that it was difficult to take it seriously. The fact that the choreography is often unmusical didn't help either.


Absolutely agree.
I went to see Kent/Bolle performance, and having never seen this ballet before, I wish I did not read (and love) the actual poem.

I love the Pushkin's book, and it did not help me to enjoy performance at all.. I think if I did not read the poem, it would be easier to tolerate ridiculous ballet story. Also, costumes in Act I were laughable.. (why Tatiana and Olga are dressed as peasants??? Other girls of their circle are also dressed as peasants, while man are wearing proper evening attire. And vice versa during the peasant dance )


I think Pushkin's poem/novel is so wonderful that it is hard to enjoy the ballet the same way after reading it. I think it is best to go from poem to Tchaikovsky's opera (which has more moving music, in my opinion) and then to the ballet. Then, the ballet doesn't seem as inferior, but if you go straight from the novel to the ballet, I can imagine it would be disappointing. I went from the book years ago to the opera many years ago and was disappointed but came to love the opera over time. The ballet which I know from video is not too different from the opera, so I actually enjoy it for a fairly "modern" ballet. I am not sure I would understand the entire story if I just started with the ballet. There were several moments that I thought would be confusing if you didn't know the story already. Also, the whole flirtation with Olga at the party which upsets Lensky does come off as too sudden in the ballet.

I suspect (just guessing) that the costumes in Act 1 are to underscore how Tatiana seems more provincial. She is a wealthy landowner's daughter but immersed in country living, but Onegin is cosmopolitan and used to city life and fancy balls. He comes to the country and I believe part of the reason he rejects Tatiana is that he finds her and her life very provincial ("cute" but not for him). I think the class issue comes across much more in the novel/poem. But you have a good point that all the men are dressed up and all the women are dressed down. Not really sure.

Some people interpret Onegin as being gay. There was a recent production of the opera in Munich, I believe, that did that, but I don't think it was the first production that has done that. That explains his dismissal of her love and then later his sudden reversal when she is wealthy and admired (sort of a glamorous diva in his eyes suddenly). Of course, that is just pure interpretation with no basis in the original text, and I don't think the ballet makes him seem gay.But it is interesting to analyze Onegin's character from all possible points of view.

#43 Goldfish17

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:02 PM

I suspect (just guessing) that the costumes in Act 1 are to underscore how Tatiana seems more provincial. She is a wealthy landowner's daughter but immersed in country living, but Onegin is cosmopolitan and used to city life and fancy balls. He comes to the country and I believe part of the reason he rejects Tatiana is that he finds her and her life very provincial ("cute" but not for him). I think the class issue comes across much more in the novel/poem. But you have a good point that all the men are dressed up and all the women are dressed down. Not really sure.

Some people interpret Onegin as being gay. There was a recent production of the opera in Munich, I believe, that did that, but I don't think it was the first production that has done that. That explains his dismissal of her love and then later his sudden reversal when she is wealthy and admired (sort of a glamorous diva in his eyes suddenly). Of course, that is just pure interpretation with no basis in the original text, and I don't think the ballet makes him seem gay.But it is interesting to analyze Onegin's character from all possible points of view.


I think you are right about intention to make Tatiana in Act I as provincial as possible.. However, children of wealthy landowners did not wear the same clothes as peasants, no matter how provincial. Also, Tatiana in Act I spends quite a bit of time with book in her hands. It is a bizarre combination: typical peasant's outfit, hairdo - and book, as peasants were illiterate. A book goes together with peasant's outfit as a shovel would go with a ball gown.

Onegin - gay, what an interesting interpretation! I have never thought about it this way

#44 Quiggin

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:31 PM

Onegin was done here by San Francisco Ballet his past season and as I read the book I was quite amazed at how different it was than Cranko's ballet, especially in tone - it’s really like Jane Austen in its gentle irony while the ballet is straight-on melodrama. Pushkin comments on all of his characters, not knowing really how he feels about them (maybe that’s why Eugene can be read as gay) until he finds he has placed them in awkward situations. Then Pushkin says things like “poor Titania, what have I done to you” and “my Eugene, are you only a parody of a person.” He makes of Lensky a shallow character, an abstactly philosophizing young student who has just returned from studying Kant in Germany.

I believe Tatiana’s family is of the same class as Eugene's, though impoverished and Eugene may have been exiled to the country, as Pushkin in real life was. Tatiana loses herself in books as an upper middle class young woman may have gone with Cary Grant movies in the late thirties. She only discovers what Eugene was really like when she spends an afternoon going through Eugene's library after he has permanently has left his estate to wander aimlessly about the countryside.

There are many moving parts in the novel which Pushkin gets to through his irony - such as the description of Lensky’s death done in two styles - Lensky’s own conventional one and then Pushkin's:

“One moment earlier
in this heart had throbbed inspiration
enmity, hope and love,
life efferversed, blood boiled;
now as in a deserted house,
all in it is both still and dark,
it has become forever silent.
The windows are shut. The panes with chalk
are whitened over. The chatelaine is gone -
But where, God knows. All trace is lost.”

*

Balanchine strongly disliked the ballet because of the pastiche it made out of Tchaikovsky’s scores. And Macaulay recently said that decades go by and he doesn’t miss seeing Onegin - though he does like finding out what the performers have done with the roles.

And regarding the opera version that Bart B mentions: I only saw it once, at the Met in the late eighties or nineties and don’t remember much about it except that I was sitting next to two ex-dancers in a side box, one of whom had been in the original production of “On Your Toes” - about which she could only remember that Lorenz Hart was dreamily in love with a new girl friend (she may have been thinking of Bobby Hart). Afterwards I asked her what she thought of the opera and she said “too much shooting” and put her hands over her ears.


#45 Drew

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 09:47 PM

Afterwards I asked her what she thought of the opera and she said “too much shooting” and put her hands over her ears.



Now I will always have something to say (and do) after I see a movie.

Okay...maybe not every movie. Maybe not even every Hollywood movie. But almost.

On topic? I'm thinking it would take an Ashton to get something like Pushkin onto the ballet stage.


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