Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I'm the slow girl today, so I just realized that both Jewels and Onegin are 50 years old this year.  They're getting the kind of revival attention that classics should get (multiple companies, new designs, performance "gimmicks"), and so I thought that perhaps we could have a little compare and contrast discussion here. 

 

Let's start out with our own experiences -- which of these ballets have you seen, who have you seen in them, and what do they mean to you?

 

I'll be back later.

Share this post


Link to post

Actually Onegin was made in 1965, it was the revised version that premiered in 1967. Cranko's first version had a prologue where you could see the death of Onegin's uncle, and it had Tatiana's children coming in in the last scene to say goodnight to her. Cranko worked on these scenes soon after the premiere, also on the fight between Onegin and Lenski. 

The cast in 1965 was Marcia Haydée (Tatiana), Ana Cardus (Olga), Ray Barra (Onegin), Egon Madsen (Lenski) and Kenneth Barlow (Gremin). The cast in 1967 was Haydée, Susanne Hanke, Heinz Clauss, Bernd Berg and Jan Stripling - three German dancers in principal parts, you don't get that very often nowadays...

Stuttgart Ballet chose to mark the 50 year jubilee in 2017 because it is the version we know today.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Fosca said:

Actually Onegin was made in 1965, it was the revised version that premiered in 1967. Cranko's first version had a prologue where you could see the death of Onegin's uncle, and it had Tatiana's children coming in in the last scene to say goodnight to her. Cranko worked on these scenes soon after the premiere, also on the fight between Onegin and Lenski. 

The cast in 1965 was Marcia Haydée (Tatiana), Ana Cardus (Olga), Ray Barra (Onegin), Egon Madsen (Lenski) and Kenneth Barlow (Gremin). The cast in 1967 was Haydée, Susanne Hanke, Heinz Clauss, Bernd Berg and Jan Stripling - three German dancers in principal parts, you don't get that very often nowadays...

Stuttgart Ballet chose to mark the 50 year jubilee in 2017 because it is the version we know today.

 

Thanks so much for the clarification -- I don't see Cranko very often, and don't feel very well informed about the work.  Did he make a habit of revising ballets, or was this an unusual step for him?

Share this post


Link to post

On Onegin:

 

My mother took me to see Onegin and Romeo and Juliet at the Los Angeles Music Center when impresario Sol Hurok brought the Stuttgart Ballet to  the U.S.  I still have the souvenir program somewhere. I was fortunate to see Haydee in both roles. That first Onegin was unforgettable and I specifically recall moments in Act II, Scene I between Haydee and  Heinz Claus, such as when he tore the letter and the way the fragments fell between her fingers, and then Haydee's solo, among other parts of the ballet.  It was an extraordinary evening.  I saw Heinz Claus (Onegin), Marcia Haydée (Tatiana), Suzanne Hanke (Olga), and Egon Madsen (Lensky).  

 

After that, I only saw the filmed version by the National Ballet of Canada with Frank Augustyn, Sabine Alleman, Cynthia Lucas, and Jeremy Ranson, until the San Francisco Ballet premiered it about six years ago, with different sets and costumes from the original designs. I've seen SFB dance it six times, with Davit Karatpetyan/Vanessa Zahorian twice (and who were devastating in the last act pas de deux); Pierre Francois Vilanoba/Sarah Van Patten; Ruben Martin Cintas/Yuan Yuan Tan;  and Carlos DiLanno/Mathilde Froustey (also two times, and I have comments posted about their performances in the 2016 season on Ballet Alert elsewhere).  I also have to mention the excellent, noteworthy Prince Gremin of Tiit Helimets  whom I saw in 2016.

 

I had the immense pleasure of seeing the Dutch National Ballet perform Onegin last month on April 15, 2017, in Amsterdam, with (original designer) Jurgen Rose's costumes and sets.  I saw Igone de Jongh as Tatiana and a superb and nuanced  Roman Novitsky, guesting from the Stuttgart, as Onegin.  The dancer who performed Olga, whose name I will have to look up in the program, had a dreamy lyrical quality.  

 

My favorite Onegin was Pierre-Francois Vilanoba, who was insouciant and bored but was equally charming and very French, and you could understand Tatiana's  (the incandescent Sarah Van Patten's) fascination with him, such that she was not merely projecting on him an ideal from the novels she read - this gave the entire performance a dimension that I have not seen elsewhere.  

Share this post


Link to post

What a history you have with this ballet -- thanks so much for sharing it here!  I only know Haydee from film, and though she was astonishing there, I envy you your "live" experience.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, sandik said:

Thanks so much for the clarification -- I don't see Cranko very often, and don't feel very well informed about the work.  Did he make a habit of revising ballets, or was this an unusual step for him?

 

Cranko created his first version of Romeo and Juliet for La Scala in 1958. In Natalia Makarova's Ballerina TV series, Carla Fracci gave a charming description of how they set about working on the ballet. In 1962 he created a new version in Stuttgart. Unfortunately, I have not seen the La Scala version, but judging by the clip Fracci filmed for Ballerina, the tomb scene was revised substantially.

Share this post


Link to post

I remember the Ballerina series (it's around here somewhere, on VHS!) -- I'll have to look it out and rewatch.  I saw the Stuttgart company in R&J in the 1990s, and remember it as a very polished production -- like the Macmillian in its evocation of period, but musically less insistent. 

 

It also looked to be a production that gave its main dancers plenty of opportunity for characterization, which is something that seems to be true of Onegin, from what I've read.  Does this feel true to those here who know Onegin well?

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, I think it does. The dancers I've seen in Onegin, primarily at the National Ballet of Canada, have never seemed particularly alike in their interpretations.

 

I haven't watched the Ballerina program in eons, but I vaguely remember Fracci saying that Cranko was very responsive to dancer input. She also mentioned that prior to starting rehearsals, she and Cranko went to the cinema to watch Ulanova in the Lavrovsky version, and then stayed to watch the film a second time. I can't say I see a lot of similarities between the Lavrovsky and Cranko's Stuttgart version. However, I think the MacMillan version relies heavily on the Cranko, so much so that I think Cranko should get co-choreographer credit.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

However, I think the MacMillan version relies heavily on the Cranko, so much so that I think Cranko should get co-choreographer credit.

 

As I understand it, they were all in each other's pockets at one point.  There's an article in a recent Ballet Review, I think by Peter Wright, talking about his career, with a photo of he and Cranko at Macmillian in the 1950s -- they were all quite good looking and so very young.

Share this post


Link to post
19 hours ago, sandik said:

 

Did he make a habit of revising ballets, or was this an unusual step for him?

 

It seems that Cranko started to rework the ballet right after the premiere with subtle changes. I guess he did that sometimes or even often, adapting his steps for certain dancers, improving a scene etc. But the changes to Onegin were substantial, so they had a second premiere in 1967.

 

The first "Onegin" received mixed reviews in Germany, a rather bad one by Horst Koegler, the most important critic at that time (who of course changed his opinion later). It was a time when certain music, certain books were thought to be not suitable for ballet - remember MacMillan with Mahler's "Song of the Earth" and Faurés "Requiem", which were both refused by the Royal Opera House (Mahler! and religious music!), so he did both for Stuttgart (where they were welcome). Such was the case for Pushkin's novel, it was thought to be too educated, too sophisticated to become a ballet. Balanchine hated the idea, if I remember correctly. It was also a problem at the time that the music for "Onegin" was compiled from different Tchaikovksy works. "Onegin" had a slow start, it was only in 1969 when Stuttgart toured to New York that Clive Barnes made it an overnight sensation with his words of the "ballet miracle".

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

I can't say I see a lot of similarities between the Lavrovsky and Cranko's Stuttgart version. However, I think the MacMillan version relies heavily on the Cranko, so much so that I think Cranko should get co-choreographer credit.

 

At some points, Cranko relies heavily on Lavrovsky, for example in the ball scene in act 1, where the Capulet men hold cushions in their right hands, also the lift where Juliet kneels on Romeo's breast and bends down to kiss him - Cranko took it from the balcony pdd and put it in the wedding scene.

There's a famous anecdote about Cranko's and MacMillan's Romeos, Jann Parry cites it in her MacMillan biography "Different Drummer": After a performance of MacMillan's Romeo, a spectator said to Cranko "I wish I had seen yours", and Cranko said "You just have". Both choreographers had seen the Bolshoi performances with Ulanova in London in 1956.

Edited by Fosca

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Fosca said:

 

 

 it was only in 1969 when Stuttgart toured to New York that Clive Barnes made it an overnight sensation with his words of the "ballet miracle".

 

... though Arlene Croce loathed it, and said so, as Alexandra described in an earlier thread !

 

(just noticed that earlier thread was 18 years ago!)

Share this post


Link to post

as was pointed out at the time, Barnes called the Stuttgart Ballet on or following a trip to see the company at home in Stuttgart,"Germany's ballet miracle," Hurok Presents' promotion for the Stuttgart's initial season under Cranko in NYC hailed the troupe as "a ballet miracle," if mem. serves.

Share this post


Link to post

That's interesting, I thought Barnes used the words first in a review for the first New York performances. Sure enough people jumped at the expression in Stuttgart  :-) The company was invited only because some Russian company cancelled, I just don't remember which one. But even if Croce did not like it, the performances sold out in short time and Stuttgart was invited back - was Barnes' review considered more important at the time, or was it due to word of mouth?

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Fosca said:

But even if Croce did not like it, the performances sold out in short time and Stuttgart was invited back - was Barnes' review considered more important at the time, or was it due to word of mouth?

At that time, I would say that Barnes' opinions were more important with the general dance audience while Croce's were more important with the dance intelligentsia. That would change when Croce became the full-time dance critic at The New Yorker in 1973 and her opinions became the most important in dance for the general audience and the intelligentsia.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
On 5/25/2017 at 6:58 AM, Jane Simpson said:

 

... though Arlene Croce loathed it, and said so, as Alexandra described in an earlier thread !

 

(just noticed that earlier thread was 18 years ago!)

 

Thank you for linking to that thread, Jane. Hard to believe that some of us have been hanging out here that long. :)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
On 5/28/2017 at 9:50 PM, dirac said:

 

Thank you for linking to that thread, Jane. Hard to believe that some of us have been hanging out here that long. :)

 

 

 

And some of us go back to the old Usenet group, alt.arts.ballet.  We are a venerable bunch!

Share this post


Link to post

From a July 9, 1979 Arlene Croce review of the Stuttgart:

 

"I've hated every ballet I've ever seen done by the Stuttgart."

 

So . . .

Share this post


Link to post

More Croce from 1979 on Onegin:

 

"The Onegin, which I saw again this summer during the Stuttgart Ballet's season at the Met, could not be redeemed even by our greatest dancer-actress. Natalia Makarova, who by reason of her beauty, temperament, skill, emotional refinement, and style could have created an ideal Tatiana, was nullified by a role where her qualities mattered less than a flashy kind of acrobatic talent and a feverish pulse. These, taken together, constitute the Cranko hieroglyph for 'dance.' Makarova reproduced it well enough, and the audience reacted as if jabbed by hot pokers."

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, miliosr said:

More Croce from 1979 on Onegin:

 

"...Natalia Makarova, who by reason of her beauty, temperament, skill, emotional refinement, and style could have created an ideal Tatiana, was nullified by a role where her qualities mattered less than a flashy kind of acrobatic talent and a feverish pulse."

 

This is exactly how I felt (in a much more inchoate way) when I saw Makarova in Onegin.  I had assumed that from a purely dance perspective she would be very different and, frankly, far more beautiful than Haydee (whom I hugely admired as a dance-actress) and I also thought she would just naturally inhabit Tatiana as a character. And at first, when she appeared reading and dreaming over her book, I remember being very taken...

 

But I left the theater disappointed -- without feeling that Makarova herself was the least at fault. In particular, as I remember it, in the big acrobatic pas de deux her distinctiveness seemed to dissipate--her greatness as a dancer made much less difference when she was flinging herself about--or, being flung, than I had at all expected. That's exactly what Croce captures.

 

I have never forgotten Haydee's final seconds in Act III--as sheer, raw emotion on stage it was remarkable. So, she's my Tatiana.

 

Share this post


Link to post

Cranko loved it when Haydée was in the air, that's why there are so many lifts in the ballets which he created for her - Onegin, Romeo, Taming. She says "He always saw me up there", and she was beautiful and expressive in the lifts, her arms, her face. It's hard for ballerinas sometimes to really fill these long flights with emotion, some just behave like in Petipa or Balanchine ballets. It won't look acrobatic if you know what it is about - Haydée was soaring... 

Share this post


Link to post

The last pdd in Taming of the Shrew is one endless lift - over his head, on his shoulders, in front of his body... Petruchio really makes her fly, a very beautiful sign of his love for her after all the banter. Nobody recognizes that, everybody keeps complaining how women are treated in this ballet. :huh:

Share this post


Link to post

I think you're all putting a finger on something really distinct about ballet partnering -- if you're not familiar with the conventions of the art form, it can be easy to get distracted by the biomechanical logistics of the work.  In relation to the recent discussion elsewhere about "gang rape," there can be a fine line between the practical and the metaphorical.  It takes a certain kind of physics for a couple to cooperate on getting one person up in the air -- if you don't know what they're doing, it can look pretty odd at best, or abusive at worst.

 

I only saw Cranko's Shrew once, a long time ago, so my memories are pretty dim, but I do remember a certain amount of physical humor (of the pratfall variety) early on in the ballet that would shift into more lyrical material as they worked our their relationship.  And yes, there were some really lovely air moments (there's a video around somewhere of a duet with Haydee and Cragun and a low-flying lift that captured their characters for me).

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×