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Onegin review at Royal Opera House London

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The Royal Ballet opens its 2010-11 season with a fine performance of John Cranko’s Onegin. The 1965 dance-drama closely tracks the famous verse-novel by Alexander Pushkin, and the eponymous hero’s unhappy journey from dignified if proud and pompous nobleman to emotional wreck.

The first-night cast was exceptionally good, with Yohan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru confirming their status as the company’s best dance-actors. Kobborg, at 38, is no longer the lithe mover he was when he first arrived at the Royal Ballet back in 1999, but his acting is so true and convincing you overlook the occasional low jump and wobbling pose. His portrayal of Onegin is wholly convincing. In fact, you can barely watch some sections, such as when he tears up Tatiana’s love letter and then flirts with her sister.

Cojocaru is perfect in the Tatiana role, capturing both innocent love and desperate longing as she realises Onegin will stop at nothing to spite the country set of which she’s a part. Her dancing is as perfect as you will see, with quick, high jumps and pliant arabesques which she infuses with emotional longing.

It is often the case that after the long summer break the Royal Ballet looks under-rehearsed, but in this first Onegin they are on good form. Special mention to Steven McRae as Onegin’s friend Lensky and Akane Takada as Tatiana’s sister Olga. The pair well convey innocent, easy love. Bennet Gartside is also excellent as Tatiana’s husband who suspects his wife does not love him as he would wish.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, September 30-October 25

Kurt-Heinz Stolze, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
John Cranko
Royal Ballet
Cast includes
Johan Kobborg, Alina Cojocaru, Steven McRae, Akane Takada, Bennet Gartside, Genesia Rosato
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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