|The audience favourite Onegin makes a triumphant return to the stage in 2012, interpreted by a new generation of stars. Since its 1976 debut, this tragic love story has been one of The Australian Ballet’s most popular ballets. This quintessentially Russian tale of thwarted passion and its dire consequences is set to captivate audiences all over again.
Onegin opens in Sydney on 1 May, and then will travel to Melbourne on 23 June.
Like all good Russian heroines, Tatiana endures heartbreak and broken dreams at the hands of a misguided, romantic cad. Created by John Cranko
for Stuttgart Ballet in 1965, Onegin is based upon Russian literary giant Alexander Pushkin’s 1837 verse novel Eugene Onegin. This cautionary tale of the folly of young hearts still resonates with audiences 170 years after its publication.
The artistic director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister calls Onegin one of the greatest ballets of the 20th-century.
“We couldn’t go past Onegin in our 50th year. This production is an absolute favourite amongst dancers, as it’s hugely challenging with its mix of beautiful dancing and intense emotional acting,” said McAllister.
“Having danced Lensky in my career, I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of dancers tackle these career-making roles.”
Romantic lead and much-loved former Principal Artist Steven Heathcote returns to The Australian Ballet studios next month to work with the dancers on bringing the drama of Onegin to life. During an illustrious stage career spanning 25 years, Heathcote performed the role of Onegin many times.
Almost 50 years after its creation, Onegin remains hugely popular with ballet fans worldwide, featuring in the repertoire of 20 companies around the globe.
The principal roles of Tatiana and Onegin are on many dancers’ bucket lists as two of the great roles in the ballet canon. Two passionate scenes linger with audiences long after Onegin finishes: the famous “mirror” pas de deux and the “letter” pas de deux of the final act.
The opulent sets and costumes bring 1820s St. Petersburg to life. Jürgen Rose’s sumptuous designs —from Tatiana’s coveted red ball dress to the summery opening palette that cools as tragedy unfolds — evoke memories of a bygone era.
Remounting Onegin is one of the most labour-intensive processes of the 2012 season, with countless costumes being refurbished and set cloths being sent to Australia from the Royal Swedish Ballet.
Onegin, a bored aristocrat from St Petersburg, visits the provinces and enchants the naive Tatiana. She sends him an impassioned letter, but he rejects her, dallies with his own best friend’s girlfriend, and kills him in the ensuing duel. Years later, the troubled Onegin again encounters Tatiana, now married to a prince, and is bewitched by her. Through a series of decisions that irreversibly change the course of their lives, Onegin and Tatiana find themselves in a
reversal of roles by the climactic end of Act III.