Tuesday, June 5, 2012
EUGENE ONEGIN TWO WAYS
Running into several of our opera-loving colleagues last night at the ballet pleased us; one can enjoy a good story well told whether it is told by voice or by movement. And how those ABT dancers can move! There is no point debating the superiority of opera or ballet. We love them both.
It doesn't hurt that the story is by Pushkin who told it as a novella in verse form; it is operatic in its drama and irony. Tatiana, the shy young country mouse was superbly interpreted by the gorgeous ballerina Diana Vishneva, she of the luminous looks, the lavish legs, the graceful line, the flexible back, the fine feet. Onegin, the arrogant aristocrat, the city mouse who is oh so terribly bored in the country and oh so disdainful of Tatiana's girlish crush was just as superbly interpreted by Marcelo Gomes with his movie star looks and long lean legs. Tatiana, we GET it! We couldn't resist either.
Sister Olga the vivacious one, betrothed to Lensky, was charmingly danced by the adorable Natalia Osipova who manages to capture the hearts of everyone, including the audience. Lensky was danced by Jared Matthews and before the duel took place one couldn't help hearing "Kuda Kuda" in one's head. There was a heart-stopping moment in Act I when the corps de ballet crossed the stage in couples with huge leaps; how delighted we were when the action was repeated in the other direction.
The music by Tchaikovsky seems to be a pastiche and mostly does not remind one of the opera; Ormsby Wilkins conducted. With all due respect to this new production with sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto, we cherish our memories of the original production and give the most credit to the late choreographer John Cranko. Several decades after his untimely death, we still feel a terrible sense of loss. Whatever the critics have to say about "story ballets", the public loves them and we consider ourselves among them. Other than Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, no one has produced much of lasting value in recent years. Boris Eifman's works strike us as lurid, with sensationalism substituting for drama.