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Pushkin at the dance

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John Cranko's ballet Eugene Onegin, was a work that captured my heart years ago.I had the good fortune to watch the Royal Ballet perform it at Covent garden in 2004. What a masterly distillation of Pushkin's great verse novel.He captures so well Olga's blitheness, Lensky's ardent earnestness, Onegin's cynical ennui and Tatiana's romantic yearning and awakening.It is interesting that Cranko did not use any of the music from Tchaikovsky's great opera of the same title.Instead orchestrated selections of Tchaikovsky piano pieces are used, and to great effect.I'd urge anyone who loves the ballet to also see the opera,particularly affecting for me was Monsieur Triquet's sung tribute to Tatiana on the occasion of her birthday " My ballet employer-the extraordinary Deirdre Tarrant of New Zealand choreographed the dance sequences of this opera I attended.Pushkin's great narrative arc makes the ballet a compelling work.How well the characters are captured and how well their Russian essence is revealed. The world was cruelly denied when Cranko was tragically taken -all too soon.Who will take up his mantle?

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John Percival writes this about the source of music for Onegin.

"John told me that the piece of music in Tchaikovsky's opera that most attracted him was Gremin's aria in the last act, and he had envisaged this as a love duet when first thinking about the ballet. His idea had been to use an arrangement of the music from the opera, and there was talk of his creating the ballet at Covent Garden for Fonteyn and Nureyev, but the Board of Directors there would not hear of using opera music in that way and, as it turned out, neither would Dr Schafer at Stuttgart. However, Kurt-Heinz Stolze undertook to arrange a new score from mainly unfamiliar pieces by the same composer, using not a single bar from the opera.

page 174 of
Theatre in my Blood: a biography of John Cranko
by John Percival.

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