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Onegin (as a ballet) summer 2002


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#1 anoushka

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 02:23 PM

Hi, I am going to see the Royal Ballet's new production of Onegin next week- there have been some mixed reviews about it. Has anyone seen other productions of this balley, and did you like it? Also, do you think I would benefit from reading Pushkin's poem first? Thanks for your help!

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 02:59 PM

Welcome, Anoushka! I hope you enjoy Onegin -- please write and tell us what you thought.

I've seen a lot of productions of Onegin and have enjoyed some more than others -- I'd certainly be very interested to see the Royal Ballet one. Often whether you like it or not depends on whether you like the dancers, of course.

The ballet is very clear, I think. You won't need Pushkin's poem to understand it, although, of course, you might want to read the poem for its own sake.

#3 sylvia

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 05:43 PM

I saw Onegin last week and I simply adored it. First night (Adam Cooper, Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru, Ethan Stiefel) was a kind of a dream cast for me and I wasn't disappointed.

I was lucky enough to see a rehearsal that afternoon as well and was completely bowled over by Robert Tewsley (guesting), Mara Galeazzi, Marianela Nunez and Johan Persson. I kept thinking to myself what a talented lot we have and it's spurred me on to get tickets for the other casts as well. I'm not entirely happy at the start Ross Stretton's made, but this I'll give him this - with Don Q and now Onegin, in showcasing all these talented young soloists (and a few from the corps as well) he's exposed me to dancers I'd have never bothered to see before. I can't even begin to say how much I've spent on tickets already and the season's barely begun!

I was a little surprised by the mixture of reviews, which went from rather cool (Rojo's face described as mask-like - I thought she was very expressive!) to out and out gushing (Ismene Brown from the Daily Telegraph was extremely impressed).

Another review I read put down the sets as dated (on loan or bought from another company I think?) but I disagree quite strongly. The sets are very simple, in most cases just a beautifully detailed backcloth and a few pieces of furniture. I think they caught the atmosphere perfectly and its simplicity allows the dancers to shine. The muted pastel-coloured costumes, especially those of the corps, were indescribably lovely.

I was hoping someone here could help resolve a little confusion some of us are having - who is the older sister, Tatiana or Olga? Watching Tamara and Alina, by their mannerisms I'd tend to think that Olga was the older, more experienced with men sister. But from a physical appearances I thought Tamara danced the older one.

#4 vagansmom

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 06:20 PM

I saw ABT's Onegin last June. Their sets and costumes are on loan from the Nat'l Ballet of Canada. I happened to love them - thought they were just right for the period.

The cast I saw had Julie Kent as Tatiana and Xiomara Reyes as Olga. Olga is, in fact, the elder sister. To me, Olga seemed more of a flirty younger sister sort than Tatiana. I thought it was perhaps a matter of casting. Reyes's dancing is light-hearted and my overall impression of her Olga personality was that she was adorable. Which made her seem so young. Kent's Tatiana, on the other hand, although she too did an admirable job, still came off appearing older than Olga. In the end, I thought that the two dancers, taken together, were miscast. Each would have been fine, I thought, in her role had there been a different dancer in the other role.

[ November 26, 2001: Message edited by: vagansmom ]



#5 Jane Simpson

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 04:40 AM

Surely Tatiana is the older sister? It is stated quite clearly, several times, in the Pushkin original, and watching previous performances it has never crossed my mind that this was not the case - in fact surely it's part of the point.

#6 vagansmom

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 11:05 AM

Maybe they changed it for the ballet. Either that or the ABT program notes got it wrong. They read as follows: "...he meets his friend Lensky, about to marry a bourgeois young woman, Olga, whose younger sister, Tatiana, falls in love with the glamorous, cosmopolitan Onegin."

In looking over the bulk of the program notes, though, it surelooks like they intend Olga to be the elder sister. She's engaged. Tatiana, on the other hand, is a "coltish girl", Onegin thinks she's "aflame with impetuous first love", he is irritated by her "outburst of adolescent love".

I'd prefer, as mentioned in my comments in my first post here, to believe Olga as the younger sister. It was a stretch to think of Reyes's Olga as the elder one to Kent's Tatiana. However I suppose we all know that older sisters, by virtue of their age, aren't necessarily the wiser or more serious sibling. tongue.gif

[ November 27, 2001: Message edited by: vagansmom ]



#7 Alexandra

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 11:23 AM

I think that must have been an error in the ABT program. I don't think Cranko changed that for the ballet, and I've never seen an Olga who was cast as the older sister.

[ November 27, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]



#8 rg

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 12:57 PM

the programs i have from the early tours of 'onegin' by the stuttgart ballet make no reference to the respective ages of olga and tatiana in the ballet's synopsis.
nabokov's translation of pushkin says something specific about olga's age, when he states in his synopsis of the poem's second chapter:
'Eighteen-year-old Lenski is in love with a maiden of sixteen named Olga, his childhood playmate.'
perhaps further notes in nabakov give tatiana's actual age w/ respect to her sister's, but i haven't come across it in my cursory reading.
interestingly in the balanchine/mason 'complete stories of the great ballets,' 'onegin' is not under 'o' where one would expect to find it as 'onegin' but under 'e' where it is mistakenly entitled 'eugene onegin'.
even tho' cranko's libretto changes pushkin's occasion for honoring tatiana on her name day to one celebrating her birthday, no age is given in the notes i've seen.

#9 vagansmom

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 07:26 PM

Pushkin's poem was published as "Eugene Onegin", rather than simply "Onegin".

I did a quick Google search to look for the verse-novel and found a translation by Alan D. Corre where, in a stanza about Olga, it goes on to say:

"Now, pray permit, my reader dear,
Her elder sister to appear.

XXIV

'Tatiana' was her sister's name..."

So, at least in that translation, Olga is clearly the younger sister.

I also read a brief biography on Pushkin. Sadly, the end of his life strikingly paralleled that of Lensky.

Pushkin wrote "Eugene Onegin" from 1823 - 31. He married Natalia Goncharova on February 18, 1831, in Moscow. In 1834 his wife met a man named d'Anthes who scandalously pursued Mme. Pushkina for two years. Pushkin challenged him to a duel several times but retracted the challenge when he heard that d'Anthes was really in love with Mme. Pushkina's sister. In fact, d'Anthes did marry the sister but continued to pursue Pushkin's wife. Pushkin again challenged d'Anthes to a duel which took place on January 27, 1837. D'Anthes fired first, and Pushkin was mortally wounded; he died two days later.

So, to compare:

Lensky is engaged to Olga
Onegin flirts with Olga
Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel
Onegin kills Lensky in the duel
Onegin later realizes that Olga's sister could've been the love of his life.

Pushkin marries Natalia Goncharova
d'Anthes flirts with Mme. Pushkina
Pushkin challenges d'Anthes to a duel
d'Anthes marries Mme. Pushkina's sister
d'Anthes kills Pushkin in the duel.

It makes me wonder if Pushkin would've chosen a different path had he never written "Eugene Onegin". Perhaps having lived with the events of that story for those 8 years while writing it, he then felt compelled to live out its ending?

#10 sylvia

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Posted 01 December 2001 - 11:51 PM

I have to admit I had my doubts when casting was first announced and Alina was to be Tatiana. Then when I read Alina's first reviews for Onegin I expected her to be wonderful. Now after watching her for myself I have to say she exceeded my very best expectations! Her transformation from innocence to passion was breath-taking. In the mirror scene every step, every lift flowed as part of one beautifully fluid movement. I read statements like this everywhere but I hadn't realized until now that it was something I'd never seen or appreciated.

Adam Cooper is a hard act to follow but Kobborg more than matched him, using his enormous technical capacity to inject drama into his role. Before the duel while arguing with Lensky he pulls off these multiple pirouettes, amazingly fast and centred before stopping suddenly and slamming his fist down, and the speed at which he spins made his anger seem all the greater. I also didn't find him as ice-cold as the others. His interpretation I thought was more subtle, more nuanced and no less beautiful to watch. He's a brilliant partner for Alina. They looked so confident it was like they'd been dancing together all their lives. They had so much speed and held nothing back in the acrobatic lifts.

There's been so much made about Alina being 'not mature enough' for Tatiana but I disagree very strongly. Of course she can't hide her youth but she had such poise from the start of Act III and her pdd with Gremin was so loving and kind she convinced me wholeheartedly of her maturity.

In the final letter writing scene I got chills from the passion and desperation let loose. Their partnership is extraordinarily memorable and their performance is a must see.

Johan Persson's Lensky was very accomplished, especially his heart-felt Act II solo. Gemma Bond, who's been plucked from the corps and I think has only been with the RB for a year, made a lovely Olga but her interpretation I felt wasn't particularly deep. Still I'm looking forward to seeing how she develops in the company.

#11 anoushka

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Posted 03 December 2001 - 08:03 AM

Wow! Its sounds very exciting- I'm going tonight to see the Tapper/Coppen/Nunez/Tuckett cast with Johannas Stepanek replacing Rupert Pennefather, so I'll let you guys know how it goes-I can't wait!!

#12 sylvia

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Posted 03 December 2001 - 12:25 PM

I did see Tapper/Coppen/Nunez/Stepanek for the Saturday matinee but I'd used up all the best words in describing Alina and Johan! Jamie and Nathan were wonderful as well. Tapper is a real talent in the company, very passionate and very DIFFERENT from the others I'd seen before. And I'm so pleased that RB have snagged Coppen. I had never been a huge fan of his until now. Stepanek stepped in at the last minute for an injured Pennefather (both from the corps). He was so sweet in Act I, had no problems at all partnering Nunez. Apart from a couple wobbles he was lovely in his Act II solo. It's always great to see new faces. It makes me curious how many more dancers have learned the roles but are on standby in case of injury. Will we ever get to see them dance?

#13 sylvia

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Posted 03 December 2001 - 12:27 PM

... and before I forget I hope you have a super time Anoushka! Will you be seeing any other casts?

#14 anoushka

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Posted 04 December 2001 - 06:39 AM

Hi Syvia- I won't see any other casts because I'm leaving to travel the world for 6 months on Sunday, and I really wish i could now!

I really enjoyed the performance and thought Nunez and Stepanek were amazing- Johannes in particular because I've only ever seen him in 'cheeky boy' roles rather than more serious ones. He showed such depth of feeling and I was nearly in tears at his despair with Olga, before the duel.

I hadn't seen Nathan Coppen before, and I wasn't that struck by him, but maybe that was because I was totally carried away by Johannes!! biggrin.gif

The performance as a whole was very well done, I though the corps were excellent in the ensemble dances, I especially liked the ball scene.
I certainly reccomend this production to anyone!!

#15 sylvia

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Posted 08 December 2001 - 01:24 PM

Onegin images on the ROH website now up and really beautiful ones too! Much cleaner than the Don Q ones last month. I hope they add more images, including those of other casts.

http://www.royaloper...?ccs=186&cs=316


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