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The Royal Ballet's latest run of Onegin began tonight, with Alina Cojocaru as Tatiana and Jason Reilly from Stuttgart replacing an injured Johan Kobborg as Onegin. Thoughts here, please.

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I bought my tickets for Onegin 23rd January as soon as booking opened, hoping to see the stellar combination of Kobborg/Cojocaru. Only noticed this week that Reilly is replacing Kobborg on that date. Now trying to reschedule for 30th January in the hope that Johan will have recovered from his injury by then. He is also due to dance Onegin on 2nd February but RoH website says Sold Out for that one.

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As Jason Reilly has come from Stuttgart his portrayal of Onegin may in fact be correct.

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As Jason Reilly has come from Stuttgart his portrayal of Onegin may in fact be correct.

 

As (i) the RB production is very closely supervised by Reid Anderson and coached by Jane Bourne and (ii) Reilly was never coached by Cranko, I doubt the fact that Reilly dances in Stuttgart has any bearing on authenticity or otherwise of his portrayal.

Edited by bangorballetboy
to remove unintended emoticon

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I have seen all of the recent Onegin performances at Stuttgart Ballet, and of course Jason Reilly. I also saw RB's Onegin when they last did it with 3 casts. Stuttgart Ballet Onegins are strictly coached and monitored by Reid Anderson and Jane Bourne and the Cranko Foundation (including copyright owner of the ballet Onegin, Dieter Gräfe), also with many of their predecessors, and they learn the role with a time span of several years. The fact that Jason Reilly danced this role in Stuttgart Ballet's 50th anniversary gala in 2011 shows the fact that he is an authentic Onegin. Onegin is a VERY important role at Stuttgart Ballet and the foundation has the right to choose the dancers.

Well I didn't think Mr. Kobborg's portrayal of Onegin was authentic when I last saw him...

Edited by Naomi M
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I saw both the afternoon general rehearsal (Nunez/Soares) and evening performance (Cojocaru/Reilly) yesterday and would have to agree with Judith Flanders' report. It might have been in comparison to the rehearsal cast where the emotion and drama really came through, but I found Reilly's portrayal quite bland and didn't feel much from him at all whereas I had been quite overcome earlier in the day by all that was happening on stage. Alina was stunning in the evening and her PDD with Gartside wonderful to watch but I think that it will take time, as you would expect, for her to gel with Reilly to make their joint performance truly believable.

I know it's not the done thing to comment too much on rehearsal casts but Soares was a tour de force in my view, and quite rightly looked triumphant, if exhausted, at the curtain call. His final PDD with Marianela (new to the role I believe, not that you would've thought it given the depth of her portrayal a full week before their first night) was superb. Interestingly, I read an interview with Soares this morning where he stated that Cranko's Onegin was his favourite role. I should point out that I sat in different places in the auditorium for the two casts, and this may have altered my perception of individual performances. I couldn't possibly comment on how "authentic" a performance might be and for me, the emotion it makes me feel is the most important thing when watching ballet. Now I just need to find the time to view some more performances of Onegin!

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Stuttgart Ballet Onegins are strictly coached and monitored by Reid Anderson and Jane Bourne and the Cranko Foundation (including copyright owner of the ballet Onegin, Dieter Gräfe), also with many of their predecessors, and they learn the role with a time span of several years. The fact that Jason Reilly danced this role in Stuttgart Ballet's 50th anniversary gala in 2011 shows the fact that he is an authentic Onegin. Onegin is a VERY important role at Stuttgart Ballet and the foundation has the right to choose the dancers.

 

I don't think there's anything in that which does not also apply to performances by the Royal Ballet.

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Well, I made it from Lancashire. Once I realised the train I was booked on wasn't running and I had 10 minutes to get to the station to get the one before I was fine!! Made it and enjoyed the performance which was virtually a full house so people perhaps took advantage of the returned tickets and booked at the last minute. Hope the rest of the run is similarly full. Onegin is one of my favourite ballets and I suspect the reason it isn't shown as often as Manon, Mayerling etc is that people don't know it as well and therefore don't book for it. (Perhaps another reason is that it isn't available as a dvd or for big screen filming so people can't get to know it before the performance; whose fault is that??????)

Didn't particularly enjoy the 4 and a half hour coach journey home but am doing the same thing next weekend (though train both ways) and the weekend after, so fingers crossed for the snow to go away!! Joan

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I too saw both the afternoon and evening performances of Onegin yesterday. I've never seen Onegin before (nor read the original verse-novel or seen the opera) so can certainly not comment on how accurate a portrayal was given! Here's my tuppence worth though.

 

I was simply blown away by this ballet, and it certainly has gone straight into my favourite ballets.

 

I know it isn't the done thing to comment on rehearsals so I will try not be specific but urge everyone to grab the handful of remaining tickets for Nuñez's debut next Saturday! The evening performance was sublime - I personally thought Alina and Reilly worked very well together (have they ever danced the ballet together before?). Alina's Tatiana seemed youthful and naïve as she fell for Onegin, with more than a hint of maturity revealing itself during the mirror pas de deux. Reilly's Onegin was overtly a nasty man from the start, making his breakdown following the duel all that more shocking. In Act III Alina's Tatiana seemed content with her marriage to Prince Gremin (Gartside) and their Pas de Deux was an effortless (even viewed as closely as from C99 in the SC!) display of partnerwork displaying this happiness. Finally, the closing scene was as intense and emotional as any ballet I've seen. McRae and Takada were fantastic as Lensky and Olga, with McRae's pre-duel solo particularly fine.

 

All in all a fantastic performance - can't wait for a repeat viewing next Saturday and on the 30th (any ideas if Kobborg will have recovered by then?)

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I was wondering whether importing Jason Reilly from Stuttgart meant that there was no cover for Onegin among the Royal's dancers, whether the Cranko estate simply didn't have time to approve a replacement, or whether they were just being particularly careful because it was Cojocaru?

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A wonderful ballet - though not so popular with the public..ENB couldn't tour it and fill a theatre for example

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And overall, I think the best performances I've seen have still been ENB ones ... (or technically it may have been LFB).

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I heard the RB called Stuttgart for help because they have no replacements, too many Onegins injured.

 

There is no "correct" Onegin, as there is no "correct" Romeo - there have been many possible interpretations at Stuttgart over the years, from what you call bland (and I would call reserved or aloof in Reilly's case) to very nasty. The Stuttgart dancers are allowed to find their own interpretation, though there may be a tendency versus the nasty Onegin in recent years which I personally don't understand. Last time I saw Reilly, I liked him very much because he was rather reserved, not as openly nasty as Evan McKie, but reading your opinions here that may have changed for his London performance. It IS a difficult role, maybe the most difficult role in dramatic ballet, and there are so few who find their own, perfect portrait from beginning to end.

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Onegin should be portrayed as haughty. His first name means well born and his motto, the words round the EO on the front cloth (French words which inadequate lighting failed to reveal, let alone highlight) stress the importance of honour. He is disdainful of the country society he has to mix in. A cynic might say that he can only appreciate Tatiana once he sees her as a member of the St Petersburg nobility (personally I wouldn't go that far). Tatiana was always portrayed as gauche, as a girl, by Haydee, the originator of the role, and which Alina showed, and so another reason for being beneath the interest of such a snobbish nobleman, who has had so many conquests of sophisticated beauties as shown in the first scene of the final act. But Onegin is also a dark, not to say tortured, man, which is why I liked Kobborg's performances in the past, unlike Naomi M. Let's hope he recovers in time to perform it.

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I saw POB perform Onegin a couple of years ago. One of the 2 performances I saw has stuck with me because of the interpretation of Onegin by Herve Moreau. My friend and I were feeling a bit flat in the first interval because the mirror duet had been pretty but Moreau had seemed somehow distant and not very passionate. We were in bits by the end because his performance in acts 2 and 3 was incredibly powerful - nasty in act 2 and broken and impassioned in act 3. Talking about it later we decided that his portrayal of the character in the mirror duet was how a naive young girl may have dreamt about an idealised love affair. When I have thought about it since, I realised that it was a very special and intelligently thought through portrayal.

 

I was very fortunate to see quite a lot of Onegin performances in my early ballet-watching days, it is one of my favourite ballets and I appreciate all the differences in interpretation. After all, that's why we go over and over again!

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DavidW.....not only was this the first time they'd danced this ballet together, it was the first time they'd danced anything together!

 

My tuppence worth: I really enjoyed this performance. I thought that both Alina and Jason were a bit tentative in Act 1, but by Act 3 the chemistry and passion between them had developed more, and I'm sure that in their next performance, and (if they do it on the 30th) even more by the last one, it will be much more evident that the chemistry is there. I liked Reilly's interpretation; he reminded me very much of a Mr Darcy in Act 1, the way he brooded around the place and was very evidently disdainful towards the 'country bumpkins' by whom he was surrounded...laughing at the book Tatiana was reading, refraining from their dances, etc.

 

Alina was her usual wonderful self in this role. Of course, the problem with all of us who have seen her dance this with Johan is that no matter who else she ever dances it with, it is never going to the reach those heights of passion and emotion...they are so well matched in that regard, and they understand each other so deeply, that it just couldn't be the same with anyone else.

 

Steven McRae was such a wonderful Lensky, so very moving. He really caught the young boy in love in Act 1, but the depth he brought to the pre-duel solo of Act 2 was startling. Despair, fear, a sense of waste, goodbye....all were beautifully and clearly conveyed by every movement of his whole body, right down to his fingers when he threw his arms up into the air and slowly brought them down again, his face contorted with grief. He knew he had no chance against Onegin in a duel, and this gorgeously danced solo made that abundantly clear; he was saying goodbye. Akane Takada danced superbly as Olga, but I think she needs a bit more time to develop her character. I didn't get much sense of the silly, shallow girl versus the sudden growing up she has to do with the realisation that her fiance's death is partly down to her responding positively to Onegin's flirtations. This was her first outing in the role, however, so it will come as she is such a lovely all-round dancer.

 

The Act 3 pdd between Alina and Bennet Gartside as her husband, Prince Gremin, was astoundingly tender, and the affection between them there for all to see. A marriage of love and mutual affection, but maybe not passion....the contrast between this pdd showing a comfortable situation, and the one at the end of the act wherein there is real passion and emotion requires a lot of the ballerina dancing Tatiana; two completely different mindsets in 15 minutes; difficult to achieve but Alina succeeded very convincingly here.

 

As to how Onegin should be portrayed....as has been said already, I don't think there is any definite, proscribed way. Having seen it many times, I was actually very surprised when I finally read Pushkin's tone poem a couple of years ago. I was surprised at how kind Onegin is in rejecting Tatiana...."it's not you, it's me, I'd only hurt you" sort of thing. I guess it makes for more drama in the ballet context if he is cruel to be kind. Or is he just cruel? Only the interpreter knows for sure....

 

A very enjoyable start to the run of this most wonderful of ballets, and I look forward to seeing the other casts too.

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I liked Reilly's interpretation; he reminded me very much of a Mr Darcy in Act 1, the way he brooded around the place and was very evidently disdainful towards the 'country bumpkins' by whom he was surrounded...laughing at the book Tatiana was reading, refraining from their dances, etc.

 

In all fairness to Onegin, I've always thought (perhaps from the novel?) that he was actually uncomfortable with people he didn't know well. You note how he gravitates towards Gremin as soon as he sees him: some people claim this is snobbery because Gremin's an aristocrat, but I've always thought it was more "Ah, there's actually someone here who I know. What a relief!"

 

Akane Takada danced superbly as Olga, but I think she needs a bit more time to develop her character. I didn't get much sense of the silly, shallow girl versus the sudden growing up she has to do with the realisation that her fiance's death is partly down to her responding positively to Onegin's flirtations. This was her first outing in the role, however, so it will come as she is such a lovely all-round dancer.

 

She was first cast last time around, wasn't she?

I've seen some interpreters of the role who sow the odd seed of things to come in the relationship in the first act, so that there's a more gradual progression towards the shallow flirtatiousness and heedlessness of Lensky's feelings in the second. I didn't notice that on Saturday night. That impression is certainly helped if Lensky gives us more of his poet's Romantic ardour in the first act: I've seen performances where, by partway through Act II I've already been aware that Lensky and Olga are unsuited to each other deep down, and that he would probably be far better off with Tatiana (obviously that would ruin the story, though :) )

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Sorry, I didn't realise she's done it before....probably only because I hadn't seen her myself!

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What's going to happen if Johan Kobborg has not recovered from his injury in time for his scheduled performances later in the run?The performances are squeezed into a three weeks period and so there is little time for recovery from what I understand is a back injury.

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What's going to happen if Johan Kobborg has not recovered from his injury in time for his scheduled performances later in the run?The performances are squeezed into a three weeks period and so there is little time for recovery from what I understand is a back injury.

I assume that Jason Reilly is standing by to do all performances, which would make sense, especially if they knew in advance that Kobborg wasn't going to be able to do any of his shows. Otherwise, I guess she could dance it with Bonnelli...

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I don't see Alex as Onegin!

 

I was being a little facetious Katherine! I do see him as a Lensky though! Mind you, as one of my very favourite dancers I would watch him in anything with anyone given the opportunity!

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I read somewhere that Kish has danced Onegin before - he's doing Lensky this run, but he might be a option .... ?

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I read somewhere that Kish has danced Onegin before - he's doing Lensky this run, but he might be a option .... ?

I don't think Nehemiah has danced Onegin . He has already done Lensky (in Toronto) though he is listed as a "debut" at the ROH.

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Ah - sorry - I read it in one of his bios - the one for the Hunger Project -

 

'His repertory includes James, Basilio, Albrecht, Onegin, Prince (Nutcracker) .....'

 

Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part .... I think he'd be good!

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I bought my tickets for Onegin 23rd January as soon as booking opened, hoping to see the stellar combination of Kobborg/Cojocaru. Only noticed this week that Reilly is replacing Kobborg on that date. Now trying to reschedule for 30th January in the hope that Johan will have recovered from his injury by then. He is also due to dance Onegin on 2nd February but RoH website says Sold Out for that one.

No decent seats available for 30th and there's no guarantee that Johan will be fit enough anyway, so it looks like Reilly for us on Wednesday. Am disappointed, but can only wish Johan well.

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Someone asked about why no DVD of Onegin - I think I read on here somewhere that the Cranko Estate refuse permission - quite sad and rather small minded really - as I would love to have Onegin on DVD. I wonder what Cranko would have thought about this? It's the same with NYCB's Viennese Waltzes the music composer's (I forget who) Estate refuse permission for the music to be played in Europe!!??!!

I am really looking forwrd to seeing Nunez/Soares on Saturday - weather permitting - and I had hoped to see Davvid Trezensimiech as Lensky but see he has been replaced by Valentino Zuchetti - interesting - oh well just as long as there is no screaming woman in the audience this time unlike the last time I saw Onegin at ROH it will be fine I am sure!!!

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