Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2010Posted on 8 October 2010
This was a second view of John Cranko’s wonderful ballet during the present run, this time with an entirely different cast of principals: Federico Bonelli and Laura Morera as Onegin and Tatiana, Sergei Polunin and Melissa Hamilton as Lensky and Olga, and Gary Avis as Prince Gremin. For my previous review of the first night cast of Kobborg/ Cojacaru/ McRae/ Takada/ Gartside click here. Both casts were terrific — each in its own way unbeatable — but I’ll avoid comparisons and simply report on the present one.
At the beginning of Act I, Melissa Hamilton as Olga moved with wonderful grace, and she and Polunin seemed made for one another. Their joyful dancing together made Onegin’s attempt to break them apart all the more poignant, and Bonelli’s superb aloofness and disdain in the role of Onegin showed there was no question of his flirting with Olga just to teach Lensky how shallow she is. No, this was a devilish trick by a bored young man. His tearing up of Tatiana’s letter was a masterpiece of cool rudeness, and his pirouettes before the duel showed furious emotion.
Laura Morera as Tatiana showed great emotional sincerity, and her beautiful movements in the dream pas-de-deux of Act I made an enchanting impression, sadly spoiled by one audience member whose repeated emotional outbursts had nothing to do with the dancing. Fortunately there was nothing to spoil her final pas-de-deux with Onegin before she throws him out of her dressing room. Add to that a wonderful pas-de-deux at the ball with Gary Avis, and you have a remarkable performance of Tatiana’s role. Avis showed superb stage presence, as ever, and made an unbeatable Prince Gremin. His charming re-introduction of Onegin and Tatiana in Act III, before he sweeps her out of the room, was a masterpiece of skilful timing and savoir faire. The whole performance was excellent, but the main accolades must go to Bonelli and Morera who played their roles with consummate technique and musicality.
The music by Kurt-Heinz Stolze, based on Tchaikovsky, was well played by the orchestra under the baton of Barry Wordsworth, and five further performances are scheduled for October 9, 12, 13, 20, 25.