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ABT 2017 Onegin


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45 minutes ago, Balanchinomane said:

I hope they bring it back next year. I can't wait to see it again. 

 

I could go for a three-year rotation of Onegin-Manon-R&J -- similar appeal in all of them, great music, different choreographers, lavish partnering.

 

BTW - Bolle and Nunez are doing 5 performances of Onegin at La Scala this fall: September 23 - October 18: http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/season/2016-2017/ballet/balletto7.html

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Thank you California and Abbat for your earlier posts on Stearns/ Abrera. - I would have missed this memorable performance without them...

 

Mr. McKenzie look no further - your Onegin cast is here, just needs a fraction of the marketing done for the Fluffed cream;  amazingly the house was not sold out this PM!

 

The 5 dancers, Abrera, Stearns, Trenary, Gorak, Hammoudi slipped into their characters seamlessly - the dancing was uniformly splendid throughout, any faults seemed minor when faced with such uniform excellence.

 

Cory portrays Onegin extremely well - elegant self assurance, jaded beyond words at the tender age of twenty-something, when not studiously indifferent, vaguely amused as when he takes a look at Tatiana's book.  He courts Olga with both mischief and a delicious maliciousness - as he impetuously  shatters Lensky's naive belief in his uncomplicated love.  Could he be jealous of such pure happiness? lovely jumps, elegant lines.  Cassandra was eagerly complicit their  dance together  was outstanding.  

 

Great chemistry with Stella in the mirror PDD,  a budding passion  which  finds its complement and culmination in the tormented final.  

 

Stella's Tatiana is masterful - she is Tatiana.  A wonderful moment when the torn letter slips through her fingers.  The scene where she and Onegin exit to the opposite sides of the scene at the end of Act 1, was truly poignant.  The final PDD from the start is a struggle not to succumb to her love for Onegin.   it was extremely touching and brought tears to my eyes. I found it appealing that she does not give back the letter to Oniegin as if it was revenge  as it sometimes is portrayed. 

I think Onegin requires freshness, and this cast has it in spades. 

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Edited by Mazurka
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I also attended Saturday matinee with the hope to find my favorite ABT in-house ballerina. This forum loves Abrera so I'll be most likely a minority, but i still don't see what's so special about her (i was very much disappointed by her giselle earlier this season). For Onegin, largely, it was fine, but it wasn't great or memorable. I liked some parts in 2nd act, but 1st act was so so. Same as Strearns. It was ok, but i couldn't understand some of his course of emotions (like big smile during the first pas de deux (not dream one) with Abrera). Probably it's unfair to compare this couple to Vishneva/Gomes or Ferri/Bolle given that it was first time for Abrera but i still think her characteriziation is not attractive enough. But I thought Trenary was lovely and Hammoudi was the best among the Gremins I saw (Zhurbin, Whiteside). 

 

Alas, I don't see any female principal dancer in ABT who I'll choose without heistation now. I like solists more. I enjoyed Shevshenko very much in DQ and Le Corsaire and saw her potential as an actor - hope to see her more in principal roles. I think Trenary also goes well with Tatiana too, but I don't know if she'll manage this level of acting. 

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1 hour ago, nana said:

I also attended Saturday matinee with .... This forum loves Abrera so I'll be most likely a minority, but i still don't see what's so special about her ....

 

Alas, I don't see any female principal dancer in ABT who I'll choose without heistation now. I like solists more. 

 

I'm one person who agrees with you (but I don't post much on this board). For some time now I have been trying to understand the attachment and raves about Abrera. I think she is competent and lovely (if a bit stiff) but I wouldn't go out of my way to see her, or for that matter any other of ABT's female principal roster. Not a single one takes the breath away. Count me as one person who thinks relying solely on the in house dancers is a mistake for ABT.   As for the soloists, there are some intersting dancers coming up but time will tell if they can hold my interest. 

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It's hard to see how they could bring back Onegin without guests like Ferri and Vishneva. Perhaps Nunez could be brought over? She would also be a fabulous guest in Manon. (Her DVD with Acosta is glorious.) I see on YouTube that Kochetkova does Onegin with SFB, but I doubt people here would admire her dramatic interpretation, having seen these other possibilities. I wonder if Simkin has Onegin potential with the right partner - his partnering and dramatic expression have improved so much, along with his extraordinary technique. But with Kochetkova? I doubt that would be satisfying overall. 

 

Hammoudi was acceptable at the matinee Saturday, but he is still a disappointment. He just doesn't have the presence of others. Too often, a walk is just a pedestrian walk. An arm moves, but it's not presented. He never seems invested in the total package that changes an ordinary person to a dramatic dancer. 

 

On another matter: somebody asked how the russians pronounce "Onegin." There's actually a YouTube channel for pronunciations:

 

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2 hours ago, Olga said:

 

I'm one person who agrees with you (but I don't post much on this board). For some time now I have been trying to understand the attachment and raves about Abrera. I think she is competent and lovely (if a bit stiff) but I wouldn't go out of my way to see her, or for that matter any other of ABT's female principal roster. Not a single one takes the breath away. Count me as one person who thinks relying solely on the in house dancers is a mistake for ABT.   As for the soloists, there are some intersting dancers coming up but time will tell if they can hold my interest. 

Maybe the ABT principals are not "star material" because they lost all of their developmental years while guest artists were coming in and taking their opportunities.  Stella was lovely yesterday (personally she blew me away, but to each their own), but she debuted in this role at the age of 39, when she should have debuted in her 20's.  That is on Kevin McKenzie.  

 

And for those who say they don't know who will dance Tatiana next year without Vishneva and Ferri, how about ABT continues to fix past mistakes and gives some of the opportunities to their soloists?  So they don't have to go back to bringing in tons of guest artists???  I know this disappoints those who only want to see Russian artists on ABT's stage, but honestly, what company in the world relies entirely on guest artists?  

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46 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

Maybe the ABT principals are not "star material" because they lost all of their developmental years while guest artists were coming in and taking their opportunities.  Stella was lovely yesterday (personally she blew me away, but to each their own), but she debuted in this role at the age of 39, when she should have debuted in her 20's.  That is on Kevin McKenzie.  

 

 

 I don't disagree. While it's hypothetical to know what Abrera would be like today under different circumstances, certainly promoting dancers to principal when they are in their mid to late 30's is no way to build a company. Contrast this with Martins (and here I know I'm treading on a thin ice) who casts apprentices in lead roles of iconic ballets.

 

I think the problems at ABT are somewhat structural, even larger than the AD. Bringing Ratmansky in is a big step forward in my opinion, and we'll see what happens. 

 

As to foreign but not necessarily Russian dancers, seems to me ABT has relied on them for many years. It's 

not easy to turn a ship around, and I wish them the best of luck. I would be very happy if the soloists turned into stars.

 

Thank you for listening. I don't plan to say more on this topic until there is a new development. 

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33 minutes ago, Olga said:

Contrast this with Martins (and here I know I'm treading on a thin ice) who casts apprentices in lead roles of iconic ballets.

I agree it is hard to turn a ship around but it has to be done. NYCB is a different animal. First there is a tradition, since the Balanchine days, of throwing young people into things. Second, it is a company that mostly relies on rep programs. Throwing an apprentice on as one of 4 leads in Symphony in C (as Martins did recently) is a something of a risk but the entire evening doesn't rest on the shoulders of that dancer. 

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5 hours ago, nana said:

IFor Onegin, largely, it was fine, but it wasn't great or memorable. I liked some parts in 2nd act, but 1st act was so so. Same as Strearns. It was ok, but i couldn't understand some of his course of emotions (like big smile during the first pas de deux (not dream one) with Abrera). Probably it's unfair to compare this couple to Vishneva/Gomes or Ferri/Bolle given that it was first time for Abrera but i still think her characteriziation is not attractive enough. But I thought Trenary was lovely and Hammoudi was the best among the Gremins I saw (Zhurbin, Whiteside). 

 

 

 

 

There is no reason for Onegin to be unpleasant to Tatiana before the letter, he is after conventionally polite if quick to anger.   In the book

he is surprised that Lensky, the poet, chooses the pretty and shallow Olga.  Oniegin sees Tatiana a fit object for a poet's passion.  He he feels sorry seeing her suffering pangs of love and smiles at her tenderly- only to lectures her sternly later in response to her love letter.  Were he looking for a wife she would be perfection for a happy bucolic ever after - but it would just not work given his character.  He acts like a decent guy after all he could easily seduce her or compromise her by not keeping the letter secret.

 

Bolle errs on the boorish pompous side.  When Stearns goes into reverie and becomes distant it is completely credible.  Bolle in the same instance is a posseur - he affects a pose.

Stearns characterization means he either took the trouble to read Oniegin, or has been coached. Oniegin does not translate into English successfully - only Slavic languages, perhaps French.  Pushkin is a master of the "mot juste" - using exactly the right word,  and anyway,  as Frost has said,  "poetry is what is lost in translation".   

Onegin is 1/3 action the rest is musings on love, literature, commentary, descriptions, ironic, sardonic, witty, erudite. 

Some of the panorama of the Russian life he paints is transmitted in  Act 1 and certainly the biirthday scene Act 2.   In yesterday;s matinee  I found these delightful because the characters were fleshed out - all 4 of them brought it higher than Bolle/Ferri and Vishneva/Gomez. and the corps wonderful - it all came together.

So what if Vishneva jette from the ground up was more beautiful?  After her over the top Manon devolving into a kitch finale I am no longer so enamored.

Abrera's characterization was  more complex, more sensitive, and her dancing beautiful.  

Disclaimer:  I am not an Abrera follower - but this role fits better than Giselle.    I love Ferri's lifts but there are to many moments where her movements remind me of her age - and that is a huge distraction.  It is interesting to see her, and I am sure she sells a full house, but I like to see some new blood.

 

As to guest artists - Why does it always has to revert to Russians?  Are there no dancers  in Northern Europe?  Dutch? Hungarian? German? Danish?

Edited by Mazurka
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My reference to Martins was by way of contrast, but actually in fact  he has cast new corps members as leads in full lengths. Not suggesting McKenzie should do exactly that. I totally agree NYCB is a different animal. That relates to what I described about structural issues,

not just the AD. 

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3 hours ago, Kaysta said:

Maybe the ABT principals are not "star material" because they lost all of their developmental years while guest artists were coming in and taking their opportunities.  Stella was lovely yesterday (personally she blew me away, but to each their own), but she debuted in this role at the age of 39, when she should have debuted in her 20's.  That is on Kevin McKenzie.  

 

I'm not sure it's because she didn't have chances earlier. And principal is not where people develop their skills and practice in front of audiences - they should be fully developed and ready when they are in principal roles. Probably they can be more mature as they age but I don't think it's because she didn't have chances. 

 

I agree that AD has responsibility but now I'd rather think if there's a larger issue in ballet education system in the US. We don't see many world level dancers with strong technicality (e.g. Swan lake fouette) or strong acting skills. Is it because dancers didn't have chance to get very organized education on acting or high techniques from early on?  

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11 minutes ago, nana said:

And principal is not where people develop their skills and practice in front of audiences - they should be fully developed and ready when they are in principal roles.

That is a legitimate viewpoint, but not the only one.  There are a lot of dancers who excel in solo roles  -- "Swan Lake" pas de troi, Peasant pas de deux, Amor in "Don Q," soloist in "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2," "Scotch Symphony," not to mention a myriad of demi-soloist roles -- who can't translate that into the lead or have the ability to create a dramatic arc and develop a character through a full length. 

 

For years, Royal Ballet had a touring company:  they took the best of the best, like Sibley, directly into the corps, but the rest spent their first year or two on road.  It was those young dancers who performed the classics throughout Great Britain.  A great description of this is in Lynn Seymour's memoir and Barbara Newman's "Striking a Balance."  That was where they got their stage experience, learned pacing, developed stamina, and strengthened their technique.  Occasionally, there's a dancer with preternatural gifts and/or who's been trained at The Barn, but, on the whole, dancers don't spring from the head of Zeus.

 

Some dancers debut major roles out of town, like Copeland's DC appearances with Washington Ballet, and with ABT in Australia.  

 

NYCB has, for over half a century, thrust young dancers into lead roles.

 

I prefer to see the growth of a dancer over time, and, in Seattle, I can.  I also prefer thoughtfulness over technique -- sandik often writes about choices -- and seeing that the dancer has thought through what he or she is doing, and seeing the wheels in the brain turning and learning something new from that, even if it's just in part of a ballet, particularly a full-length.

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42 minutes ago, nana said:

 

I'm not sure it's because she didn't have chances earlier. And principal is not where people develop their skills and practice in front of audiences - they should be fully developed and ready when they are in principal roles. Probably they can be more mature as they age but I don't think it's because she didn't have chances. 

 

 

 I don't think the majority of yesterday's audience would agree with you regarding Stella's performance yesterday, as she received a loud standing ovation from the crowd.  And while I agree that one is unlikely to grow from a pure technique standpoint once they have reached principal status, I completely disagree with your viewpoint that one can't grow artistically as they perform a role repeatedly.    Many of ABT's dancers have gone on the record (and it has been discussed and published) that one of the downfalls of ABT's guest and scheduling policy, is that they only get to perform a role once a year (if that) and that it hinders their artistic growth.  

 

Quote

I agree that AD has responsibility but now I'd rather think if there's a larger issue in ballet education system in the US. We don't see many world level dancers with strong technicality (e.g. Swan lake fouette) or strong acting skills. Is it because dancers didn't have chance to get very organized education on acting or high techniques from early on?  

 

This is your opinion and I'm not really sure what it has to do with Stella or this topic.  Just because ABTs principals had a rought time with the fouettes during the Swan Lake run doesn't mean that US dancers lack technical ability.  You can't judge an entire group by one company run.   I don't know if the US system is the best way to train a ballet dancer or not, but I know there are plenty of technically secure US trained dancers out there.

 

 

Edited by Kaysta
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FWIW, I've found Stella's performances this season to be below her usual standard. She is still a lovely, lyrical dancer but her performances last season were technically much more assured. I was surprised to see her struggling visibly with some parts of the Giselle choreography.

Edited by canbelto
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38 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

You don't enjoy Stella as a dancer, that is your opinion, and you are allowed to state it.  But I don't think the majority of yesterday's audience would agree with you regarding her performance, as she received a loud standing ovation from the crowd.  And while I agree that one is unlikely to grow from a pure technique standpoint once they have reached principal status, I completely disagree with your viewpoint that one can't grow artistically as they perform a role repeatedly.    Many of ABT's dancers have gone on the record (and it has been discussed and published) that one of the downfalls of ABT's guest and scheduling policy, is that they only get to perform a role once a year (if that) and that it hinders their artistic growth.  

 

 

This is your opinion and I'm not really sure what it has to do with Stella or this topic.  Just because ABTs principals had a rought time with the fouettes during the Swan Lake run doesn't mean that US dancers lack technical ability.  You can't judge an entire group by one company run.   I don't know if the US system is the best way to train a ballet dancer or not, but I know there are plenty of technically secure US trained dancers out there.

 

 

 

Yes, I was hasty to say that but I thought ABT is one of the best companies in the US. I attended Sara Mearns' NYCB swan lake and she didn't finish fouette and did some awkward thing.. many of ABT performances and that nycb experience made me think that way and should i think that it's just a coincidence? I've attended many ballet shows in the world and was surprised at these sequences actually given that I thought abt and nycb are world level companies. I don't want to blame any but wanted to raise a constructive discussion.

 

also i didn't say dancers can't grow artistically. Of course they can and do and I love to see them too. What I wanted to say is that i have doubt on it was merely due to lack of opportunities. And even for a not great of performance Seo, i saw people gave standing ovations - it doesn't necessarily mean that the show was successful. But I understand that different people can have different opinion. 

Edited by nana
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33 minutes ago, canbelto said:

FWIW, I've found Stella's performances this season to be below her usual standard. She is still a lovely, lyrical dancer but her performances last season were technically much more assured. I was surprised to see her struggling visibly with some parts of the Giselle choreography.

She also struggled as Mercedes in DonQ where she almost fell on the ground in 1st act solo. I was so surprised since she has been technically secure even until last year. 

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6 hours ago, California said:

Perhaps Nunez could be brought over? She would also be a fabulous guest in Manon. (Her DVD with Acosta is glorious.) 

 

:offtopic:Nuñez's Manon (with Federico Bonelli) was not released on DVD. Acosta's partner on his Manon DVD was Tamara Rojo. Nuñez and Acosta appear on DVDs together in La Fille mal gardée, Don Quixote and, less directly, La Bayadère. Are you thinking of one of those? I have to disagree about Nuñez's effectiveness as Manon. Technically she was so astoundingly secure and so thoroughly in control of her body that I actually found it hard to believe in her death throes.

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1 minute ago, volcanohunter said:

 

:offtopic:Nuñez's Manon (with Federico Bonelli) was not released on DVD. Acosta's partner on his Manon DVD was Tamara Rojo. Nuñez and Acosta appear on DVDs together in La Fille mal gardée, Don Quixote and, less directly, La Bayadère. Are you thinking of one of those? I have to disagree about Nuñez's effectiveness as Manon. Technically she was so astoundingly secure and so thoroughly in control of her body that I actually found it hard to believe in her death throes.

Thanks for the correction. I saw Royal Ballet's cinema broadcast a few years ago, with Nunez and Bonelli. I believe they also had rehearsal shots in the international Ballet day broadcast. I also have the Acosta DVD and that's with Rojo, so I misremembered that.

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/the-royal-ballets-manon-to-be-relayed-live-to-cinemas-across-the-world-on-16-october-2014

https://www.amazon.com/Manon-Tamara-Rojo/dp/B002NEZ0D8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498422087&sr=8-1&keywords=manon

 

That's such a demanding role, does anybody really look like they're near-death? 

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33 minutes ago, nana said:

 

Yes, I was hasty to say that but I thought ABT is one of the best companies in the US. I attended Sara Mearns' NYCB swan lake and she didn't finish fouette and did some awkward thing.. many of ABT performances and that nycb experience made me think that way and should i think that it's just a coincidence? I've attended many ballet shows in the world and was surprised at these sequences actually given that I thought abt and nycb are world level companies. I don't want to blame any but wanted to raise a constructive discussion.

 

So you've seen 3 maybe 4 bad fouetté sequences and that's enough to dismiss all US dancers as lacking technique?  Ok, then. Not sure what else to add, except perhaps a recommendation to skip the US companies and wait for the European companies to come touring. 

 

Personally, I've seen some amazing and some not-so-great performances from dancers trained all over the world.  Not going to pigeonhole an entire system over some fouettés.

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6 minutes ago, Kaysta said:

So you've seen 3 maybe 4 bad fouetté sequences and that's enough to dismiss all US dancers as lacking technique?  Ok, then. Not sure what else to add, except perhaps a recommendation to skip the US companies and wait for the European companies to come touring. 

 

Personally, I've seen some amazing and some not-so-great performances from dancers trained all over the world.  Not going to pigeonhole an entire system over some fouettés.

Not only 3 or 4, i saw almost 70% of the shows this season and several over the years. I misunderstoond that abt and nycb are the best companies then or they just choose to cast dancers who are not the best even though there are many good ones. I don't want to see dancers who can't even execute original choreography anymore. Great for them to have people who love them whatever they do :) 

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59 minutes ago, nana said:

 

Yes, I was hasty to say that but I thought ABT is one of the best companies in the US. I attended Sara Mearns' NYCB swan lake and she didn't finish fouette and did some awkward thing.. many of ABT performances and that nycb experience made me think that way and should i think that it's just a coincidence? I've attended many ballet shows in the world and was surprised at these sequences actually given that I thought abt and nycb are world level companies. I don't want to blame any but wanted to raise a constructive discussion.

 

also i didn't say dancers can't grow artistically. Of course they can and do and I love to see them too. What I wanted to say is that i have doubt on it was merely due to lack of opportunities. And even for a not great of performance Seo, i saw people gave standing ovations - it doesn't necessarily mean that the show was successful. But I understand that different people can have different opinion. 

 

Swan Lake is not really representative of what NYCB does. It's always been an awkward fit for the company. If you were to judge NYCB, I'd judge them by their all-Balanchine/Robbins programs.

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10 minutes ago, nana said:

Not only 3 or 4, i saw almost 70% of the shows this season and several over the years. I misunderstoond that abt and nycb are the best companies then or they just choose to cast dancers who are not the best even though there are many good ones. I don't want to see dancers who can't even execute original choreography anymore. Great for them to have people who love them whatever they do :) 

I'm not trying to be disrespectful here, just trying to understand...

 

If you've been going for many years and have not liked what you've seen, why do you still attend?  Wouldn't it be better to not give money to companies that you think are putting on subpar work?  

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On 6/24/2017 at 1:08 PM, Helene said:

In interviews, one of the great portrayers of the opera's Tatiana, Anna Netrebko, has said that she cannot identify at all with Tatiana, but her portrayal of the shy, literary, emotional, and easily embarrassed teenager is very vivid, and sound more like what you describe of Vishneva than Ferri.  I don't know if this is Vishneva reclaiming her heritage like the way Lopatkina tried to make Balanchine's "Diamonds" into after Petipa, or if that's what Cranko was aiming for or included in his range of right.

Thank you for your insight! I've only read Onegin in a translated version so I'm not the most reliable critique of this ballet. Now that I think about it maybe my interpretation of this ballet has been... well... too "American"! 

 

Btw, Ferri's "determined" Tatiana only applied in the final act. I thought both Vishneva and Ferri interpreted Tatiana as a shy, bookish, introverted romanticist in the first 2 acts. Ferri sometimes made me nervous with her weak ankles... If only she made her return to ABT 5 years early... 

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I would love to see any number of ABT dancers (at all ranks) get some major debuts next year in the company's bread and butter repertory--and not just Ratmansky productions. But I agree that the current line up of ABT principal ballerinas is not the most exciting and, to be brutal, not the most worthy of a world class company. They all have strengths, but most of them also have decided weaknesses, Up to a point that's true of all ballerinas, but I think the problem is more serious at ABT. 

 

Also, Onegin, in particular, is pointless without profound, high-powered performances, and one or two guest artists in one or two ballets are not make or break for the company's efforts at developing  younger dancers.  There is youtube video of Smirnova dancing the Act III pas de deux of Onegin with Hallberg. If ABT brought Smirnova to dance Onegin with Hallberg next year, then I would probably break my 'No Onegin is worth travel expenses' rule -- especially if I got Trenary as Olga.

 

(Beyond all my serious reasons for liking Trenary, I have developed a rooting interest in her career, because she is from Georgia.)

Edited by Drew
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