The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden
You can never have enough Romantic Russian ballets, and this example, choreographed by John Cranko for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1965, is a splendid example.
Maybe Pushkin's original is not well served, maybe Tchaikowsky's offcuts make you long for the opera's wondrous score. But we have a ballet, with its two-dimensional scenery, and classic “AO” gauze front-cloth, which gives marvellous opportunities for the soloists, and for the corps-de-ballet, generously employed here as party guests, peasants and the St Petersburg gentry. A lovely grand galop at the close of Act I, amongst many delights.
Impassioned choreography and emotional intensity are the watch-word here.
Laura Morera makes a gentle and vulnerable Tatiana, fatally attracted to the black-clad romantic dream that is Federico Bonelli's rather stiff Onegin. The Act 1 pas de deux, when he steps through her bedroom mirror and sweeps her into his arms is boldly staged, with supple embraces. The moment is echoed at the very end of the ballet, when she dismisses him forever through the door placed precisely where the mirror once stood …
The poet Lensky, whom Onegin kills in a duel, was danced with some style by Donald Thom, a noted Mad Hatter in the Alice revival; his Olga Yhui Choe.
Ballet Master Gary Avis gave his Prince Gremin, modest and chivalrous, and the Nurse was danced by Jacqueline Clark.
Nostalgic pleasure in this retro revival, even if Stolze's bloated arrangements are quickly effaced in the memory by the great themes of Eugene Onegin as Tchaikowsky imagined him.