Onegin - Further information

John Cranko: Onegin John Cranko: Onegin. Marlon Dino, Lucia Lacarra
Ballet by John Cranko
Music by Pjotr I. Tchaikovsky
arranged by Kurt-Heinz Stolze

World première - Marcia Haydée and Ray Barra with Stuttgart Ballet on April 13, 1965
Première of the reversed version at Stuttgart Ballet on October 27, 1967 with Marcia Haydée and Heinz Clauss


The public as well as dancers and critics agree that if in the second half of our century there was a full-length ballet which could become a classic like „Swan Lake“, it would be John Cranko’s Onegin. Originating from a verse-novel by Alexander Pushkin and first shown in 1965 the ballet about young Tatjana, who is in love and rudely rejected by Onegin, an arrogant dandy, was enthusiastically applauded by audiences all over the world reaching from Beijing to New York.

Tatjana, a sensitive young girl confesses Onegin her love in a letter. Afer having fallen asleep, she is dreaming of the fulfilment of her heart’s desire in an overwhelmingly passionate Pas de deux. But the next time she meets Onegin, he tears the letter into pieces and courts her sister Olga. Olgas fiancé, the young poet Lenski, is deeply hurt and challenges Onegin to a duel, in which he is then killed by Onegin.

Ten years later, Tatjana is married to Count Gremin, with whom she has found inner peace. At a ball she and Onegin meet again. He has been disappointed by life and hopes to revive her feelings, realizing now, what he has thrown away. In the last scene, Onegin visits Tatjana, hoping to convince her into leaving her husband. But in a dramatic final Pas de deux the feeling of affection to her husband wins over Tatjanas still passionate feelings for Onegin. This time she tears his letter, and he leaves in dispair.

This long narrative ballet has been described as "perhaps the most successful original example of story telling in ballet made in the present century". Cranko first came into contact with the story in 1952 when he staged the dances in Tschaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin at Sadler's Wells. He then turned to Pushkin's poem which appeared to be a suitable narrative to tell in balletic term with only a little telescoping or rearranging of events. The party and ball in the poem provided opportunities for using his corps be ballet as well as the principal characters beeing attractive for dancing roles.

For more than twenty years, Onegin has been danced in Munich und neither public nor dancers are getting tired of this choreography. In addition, no great ballerina wants to miss the role of Tatjana where she has the unique chance to show the development from a teenage bluestocking to a mature woman, who in a highly dramatic clash has to decide between passion and duty.