Roberta on the Arts
American Ballet Theatre: Onegin 2013
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

American Ballet Theatre: Onegin 2013

- Onstage with the Dancers

75 9th Avenue
Chelsea Market
New York, NY 10011
Mon-Sat 8-8, Sun.10-7
Fax: 212-633-9717

Unique Products from Italy!
Prosciutto, Pecorino, Pasta!
Coffees, Nuts, Marzipan!
Ask for Antonio!

American Ballet Theatre

Onegin 2013

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters: Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan-Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 18, 2013 Matinee

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor: Charles Barker

Onegin (1967): Choreography by John Cranko, Staged by Reid Anderson and Jane Bourne, Based on the poem by Alexander Pushkin, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Arranged and orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze, Set and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by James F. Ingalls, Performed by David Hallberg as Eugene Onegin, Joseph Gorak as Lensky, Onegin’s friend, Kate Lydon as Madame Larina, a widow, Her daughters: Polina Semionova as Tatiana and Yuriko Kajiya as Olga, Nancy Raffa as Their nurse, Roddy Doble as Prince Gremin, a friend of the Larina family, and the Company as Relatives, country folk, and members of St. Petersburg nobility.

”Pushkin's great 19th-century verse-novel, Eugene Onegin, is interpreted with flawless storytelling skill by John Cranko. With a wealth of magical moments, this compelling tale features an unusual twist of double unrequited love - while the high-handed Onegin at first spurns the young, naive Tatiana, she blooms to become a sophisticated St. Petersburg aristocrat who, in turn, rejects his subsequent advances in a final crushing blow.” (ABT Web Notes).

John Cranko’s Onegin, with a ravishing Tchaikovsky score, is supremely satisfying on every level and must be seen again and often. Onegin (David Hallberg), from St. Petersburg, arrives in the garden of Madame Larina’s (Kate Lydon) country house with his friend Lensky (Joseph Gorak), to cure his ennui. It’s soon to be Madame Larina’s daughter, Tatiana’s (Polina Semionova) birthday celebration, and Tatiana and her friends are preparing party dresses. If they look into a mirror, each will see “her beloved”. This is the start of an old fashioned romantic poem, based on Pushkin’s 1825-1832 oeuvre. It’s a clean, clear, uncluttered plot, and one with poignancy, pathos, and power. Lensky is engaged to Tatiana’s sister, Olga (Yuriko Kajiya), and Tatiana falls into immediate infatuation with Onegin on sight, in her garden. Tatiana’s nurse (Nancy Raffa) delivers an impassioned letter of confidential and youthful desire, from Tatiana to Onegin (transcribed in the ABT program, for all to understand her eloquence and sincerity).

At the birthday dance, a distant relation, Prince Gremin (Roddy Doble), arrives to pursue courtship with Tatiana, with Madame Larina’s blessing. But, Tatiana sees only Onegin, and Onegin sees only himself. To add spark to his evening, Onegin flirts with Olga, who joyfully matches his dangerous whim, enraging Lensky, and generating a scheduled duel to the death. Lensky is shot, and Onegin disappears for years to sooth his soul. When Onegin returns to St. Petersburg, he finds Tatiana at Prince Gremin’s ball, as Gremin’s regal wife, and Onegin now sees Tatiana in a refined, sophisticated world, causing him to feel confusion, remorse, and angst. Now the love letter is written by Onegin to Tatiana, who rips it in his presence and dismisses him with fervor; the psychology surrounding that decisive act can be analyzed and obsessed about ad infinitum.

This production remains one of the most poignant and satisfying in the repertory. I look forward to it now, and hope it’s included again next year. The key to its success is the charisma of the lead dancers. Thus, the choice of casts. I chose tonight’s cast for the partnered chemistry between David Hallberg and Polina Semionova, one that’s palpable and intense. Mr. Hallberg, as Onegin, struts with seething boredom, jealousy at Lensky’s contentment, and envy of Gremin’s happy marriage. His profile is worthy of a painting at the Met Museum, so regal, so proud, so magnetic. And, of course, his dancing is now so Russian in style, so sweeping, so theatrical, so tall and poised. Polina Semionova, as the tormented Tatiana, is a perfect match, as she bleeds emotionally before our eyes, her stomach drawn in, her limbs so narrow. When she raises her legs above her head, she holds her ankles. This is a feat of a seasoned ballerina. Her dream sequence with Onegin was one I wish I could have seen twice, for its profusion of angst and ardor.

Yuriko Kajiya, as the flirtatious, naïve sister, Olga, who is used and abused by Onegin in his cunning pretend game, to make Lensky jealous, and thus to entertain himself out of ennui, has refined this role, with a sense of risk and relish, in the attention from two suitors. Joseph Gorack, as Lensky, morphs from vulnerable fiancé to frantic victim. His shadow comes back, in dance, to haunt Onegin, after their breathless duel. One of the brilliant designs of this ballet is the small number of lead cast, making the relationships all the more showcased. Roddy Doble as Gremin, the Prince, who finds happiness in the end with Tatiana, has little charisma but a sense of power, wealth, and fidelity. Mr. Doble danced the role with purpose and persuasiveness. Nancy Raffa as the nurse, and Kate Lydon as Madame Larina, Olga and Tatiana’s mother, danced respectively with nurturing warmth and mature sophistication. After all, this ballet takes place in a garden, a forest, a ballroom, and two bedrooms. Drama fills the air.

Santo Loquasto’s sets and costumes are quintessentially mesmerizing. Even the birches in the duel scene are gorgeous. And, that mirror, so tall, to envelop both Tatiana and Onegin in its dreamy reflection. John Cranko’s choreography, set to Tchaikovsky, is dreamlike, in itself, with waltzes, elongated back stretches of the torso, extra-high leg lifts, impassioned embraces and tosses, psychic, soulful rending from the pelvis, and gripping, still friezes. In contrast, there’s a scene for the Corps, with leaping partners crossing the stage left-right, right-left, in party gaiety. Charles Barker kept the music transporting and theatrical. Kudos to all..

Polina Semionova and David Hallberg
in "Onegin"
Courtesy of Marty Sohl

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at