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Bolshoi premiere of Cranko's "Onegin"

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The Bolshoi's daily news dispatch today included an interview with Olga Smirnova about preparations for Onegin. She said that the Сranko repetiteurs tried different combinations of dancers before deciding which pairings would work best. She also noted that her initial partner was not ultimately cast in the ballet.

Hallberg arrived in Moscow late, so he would not have participated in this process, but he's danced the ballet before. It's entirely possible that Zakharova spent part of the rehearsal process learning the choreography with the Bolshoi's other Onegins, and that ultimately she was paired with Hallberg almost by default, since, as far as I know, he hasn't danced much, if at all, with the Bolshoi's other Tatianas.

Thank you for the info. Your posts have always helped! thanks.GIF

On the page of Royal Ballet, the description for the role of Tatiana is "a bookish country girl into a sophisticated woman". A Bookish Tatiana in Act 1 & 2? Maybe, Olga Smirnova is for Cranko's bookish Tatiana. IMO, THE Tatiana in opera movie Eugene Onegin (1958) is more close to Pushkin's Tatiana. Well, I am not a Russian. I cannot speak for Pushkin & Russians.

Anyway, the casting of Onegin at Bolshoi has made me confused and amazed. I still cannot buy Anderson's words "my main priority is that Cranko ballets are staged, rehearsed and performed accurately." I understand that he would not tolerate poor and lossy performance of Crako's ballets. But, if Bolshoi danced a better Onegin than Stuttgart, would it be accurate or not? yahoo.gif

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There are precedents for this sort of casting in Onegin. For example, when the National Ballet of Canada first performed the ballet in 1984, the first Tatiana was to have been Veronica Tennant, who'd been anointed by Cranko when she was still a teenager. However, when injury prevented her from dancing in the premiere, her slot went to her understudy, soloist Sabina Allemann, rather than another principal dancer learning the part, Karen Kain. Tennant would ultimately dance the ballet, sensationally, but Allemann retained her place in the company's "first" cast as long as she was with the company.

When the Paris Opera Ballet first performed the ballet in 2009 the first night went to Isabelle Ciaravola rather than one of the company's étoiles. Of course Ciaravola was ultimately promoted during that run, crowning a season in which she'd been heavily involved in new repertoire.

Age was not a factor in either case. I bristle at the notion that Zakharova, at age 34, qualifies as an aging ballerina. Tennant was 37 in 1984, and Ciaravola was 37 when she first danced Tatiana.

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There are precedents for this sort of casting in Onegin. For example, when the National Ballet of Canada first performed the ballet in 1984, the first Tatiana was to have been Veronica Tennant, who'd been anointed by Cranko when she was still a teenager. However, when injury prevented her from dancing in the premiere, her slot went to her understudy, soloist Sabina Allemann, ...

I have watched a recording of NBC's complete Onegin, Sabina Allemann as Tatiana. I like Allemann's Tatiana very much. Her Tatiana is not "a bookish country girl", but a noble girl living in remote country, an innocent dreamer, with vivid imagination from reading. A bookish country girl?? I bet the Prince Gremin would not even manage to glance at Tatiana in the ball.

I can see that Smirnova and Allemann have very different body lines and personal traits. Smirnova's ballet skill could be batter than Allemann. But, I would like to see a great contrast between Tatiana's warm heart and Onegin's cold blood from her interpretation.

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Thank you, Lantrantov is excellent

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As reluctant as I am to form an opinion based on You Tube, from what I've seen I have to say I'm underwhelmed. I'm accustomed to greater physical abandon in the Tatiana-Onegin duets (never expected to say a Bolshoi performance lacked a sense of physical abandon), and I do think the duet with Gremin should reflect genuine contentment and not merely poise. Perhaps the final duet was simply too slow to appear really desperate.

I'm hoping for better from other casts.

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As reluctant as I am to form an opinion based on You Tube, from what I've seen I have to say I'm underwhelmed. I'm accustomed to greater physical abandon in the Tatiana-Onegin duets, and I do think the duet with Gremin should reflect genuine contentment and not merely poise. Perhaps the final duet was simply too slow to appear really desperate.

I'm hoping for better from other casts.

I'm a little wary of youtube as well (and not a huge Onegin fan obviously), but I watched the Act I mirror duet and Act III duet out of curiosity regarding Smirnova. In the former I thought that -- as best I could judge on youtube -- her dancing looked beautiful, but could perhaps have afforded to be less beautiful and more...well...fraught with newly discovered emotions. But I WAS very moved by the final pas de deux; I thought there it appeared she was giving herself up more to the emotions. (Raw emotion was certainly what Haydee brought to it.)

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I watched and enjoyed all of it. I do wish I could have seen Haydee dance it. Lantrantov is a wonderful dancer, but by the end, I really felt the ballet should be retitled "Tatyana" because Smirnova steals the show. I really wish I could see the Obratsova / Hallberg pairing.

Have any of the Russian language reviews been published yet?

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I saw Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun perform Onegin with London Festival Ballet in London (the Coli) in 1984 and it was the performance that turned me on to ballet watching and I have never forgotten it.

I only watched the mirror pdd and thought it looked a bit safe but then I had to remember it was their debuts and I am sure they will grow more into the characters as the run progresses. The quality of the dancing was lovely.

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Some videos from today’s performance with Nina Kaptsova, Ruslan Skvortsov, Kristina Kretova, Artem Ovcharenko and Yegor Khromushin have been posted on You Tube, but I’m reluctant to link them because the user recently had a previous account closed, thanks largely to the Bolshoi Theater. The clips show most of Act 2 and both duets from Act 3. I was vastly more impressed by these than by the videos from opening night. This was definitely a Muscovite take on the ballet—vivid, extremely dramatic, even operatic, with highly individual performances. Perhaps Ovcharenko was a bit lightweight in comparison to the other four, and he wasn’t quite up to the technical challenges of his solo, but at least he was less mannered than Semyon Chudin. I was struck by the detail and originality of the performances from Kaptsova, Skvortsov and Kretova, and the final duet packed a full-frontal wallop. (The tempo was still too slow, but this pair coped with it better.) Pity that there doesn’t seem to be any video from Act 1.

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wow! I have to say the 3rd cast is my favorite per youtube: Nina Kaptsova is less stylized and more artlessly innocent as Tatiana, Ruslan Skvortsov isn't a card board cutout of a cold hearted man - he's just having sport with these country folk. Kristina Kretova has wonderful acting skills and every step is done with clarity, and Anton Ovcharenko is appropriately youthful as the young, hapless Lensky. Bravo!

Sveta should take note that dancing in a non-first cast can still produce fantastic dance art.

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Thanks for the videos! It's great to compare the casts. Also, I'm now very much looking forward to seeing the ballet tomorrow with Kaptsova/Skvortsov/Ovcharenko.

In other news, according to twitter, Evan McKie still hasn't received his visa to perform in the ballet on Saturday. At what point do they decide to put in another dancer and who will they choose? Also, have the other principals (also all Stuttgart soloists) received their visas?

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No visa. Yikes! Well, I've had first-hand experience with this sort of thing, so I really feel for McKie. Hard to say if it's old-school shenanigans or merely some bureaucrat's incompetence.

Sveta should take note that dancing in a non-first cast can still produce fantastic dance art.

The sponsor of the production posted a little behind-the-scenes video online. (Unfortunately, the video credits the performance footage to the Stuttgart Ballet when it's actually the National Ballet of Canada.) In it both Nina Kaptsova and Ruslan Skvortsov talk about how happy they are to be dancing in the ballet. Kaptsova says she "always dreamed of dancing Tatiana" because of her strong personal identification with the character, while Skvortsov talks about how pleased he is to be "among the first" to dance in the ballet's first Russian production. Different priorities from Zakharova's, I guess.

But look at the bright side. The casting reshuffle that followed Zakharova's walkout resulted in Kaptsova and Skvortsov getting an additional performance of the ballet, and they obviously deserve it.

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It's been such a pleasure to watch all the video clips and read the comments. Thank you, all, for this. I was especially impressed with Nina Kaptsova and Ruslan Skvortsov. Many years ago, my mom took me to the Stuttgart Ballet to see Onegin with Marcia Haydee, Heinz Claus, Egon Madsen, and Suzanne Hanke, who were the originators of the production when Cranko revised it (I think that Ray Barra originated the title role). I still remember parts of it vividly. Haydee was unforgettable, and I recall Madsen's anguish as Lensky. The lead roles are coveted by dancers.

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It's been such a pleasure to watch all the video clips and read the comments. Thank you, all, for this. I was especially impressed with Nina Kaptsova and Ruslan Skvortsov. Many years ago, my mom took me to the Stuttgart Ballet to see Onegin with Marcia Haydee, Heinz Claus, Egon Madsen, and Suzanne Hanke, who were the originators of the production when Cranko revised it (I think that Ray Barra originated the title role). I still remember parts of it vividly. Haydee was unforgettable, and I recall Madsen's anguish as Lensky. The lead roles are coveted by dancers.

I will put in a word for Heinz Claus as well--I still recall his sense of anguish.

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From the look of the videos, they're all giving it their all. I think Smirnova is tremendous -- not because she's stylized, but because Tatiana is an idealist and a romantic, and Smirnova's lyrical way of doing everything seems in keeping with the great-hearted Tatiana who was in love with the noble Grandison, whom she only knew from a book, before she ever met Onegin. Smirnova's long long phrases are really extraordinary. i love the duet with her husband.

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