We round up the reviews for the Royal Ballet’s production of Onegin, now playing at the Royal Opera House.

(c)Tristram Kenton.

The Stage: **** “Distilled to its narrative essence, this is a ferocious and captivating ballet, danced with an immersive passion that is close to abandon.”

The Guardian: ***** “Cranko, such an intelligent choreographer, is attuned to love’s many frequencies in this taut, plot-driven ballet that traces Tatiana’s growing maturity alongside the shattering of Onegin’s ego and self-delusion.”

The Independent: *** “Clarke’s Onegin is powerfully danced, with a distinctive sense of character. A tall dancer, he has a gift for using his height on stage. Condescending to the provincial gentry, he looks about 8ft tall, but in St Petersburg, he no longer looms. He abases himself before Tatiana, literally and emotionally.”

Broadway World: *** “Cranko’s choreography does have an unfamiliar momentum and would not necessarily be recommended as a ballet for those new to the art form. There is heartfelt storytelling and an opulent, sophisticated set from Jűrgen Rose, but the story requires focus and the choreography of the corps feels generic. Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s score is a stitching together of Tchaikovsky’s original, yet only serves as background to the impassioned performances.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Cranko was a masterful narrative choreographer, and in Onegin he crafted deep, complex, evolving characters that offer a meaty challenge to their interpreters.”

London Unattached: “Such an achingly romantic story seems to me to be perfectly scheduled for a Valentine’s Day treat.  I wonder if I can find someone to take me for a second viewing.”

Evening Standard: ***** “remarkably for someone tackling the role for the first time – Clarke was promoted to First Soloist just over a week ago – he displayed no hint of nerves, and his reading is already one of nuance, an Onegin who tugs at the heart strings even as his superciliousness repels us.”

The Telegraph: ***** “Onegin is a lovely ballet that I always feel a particular need to stick up for. True, this adaptation by John Cranko of Pushkin’s 1833 verse novel (created in 1965 for Stuttgart Ballet, and in the Royal Ballet’s rep since 2001) includes some banal passages for the corps.”

Bachtrack: ***** “Cranko’s ballet is as powerful an interpretation of Pushkin’s verse novel as Tchaikovsky’s opera.”

The FT: ***** ” Russianists may chafe at the ballet’s handling of Pushkin’s complex and multi-layered verse novel, but Cranko’s emphasis on Tatiana, her girlish dreams and her ultimate, heart-rending rejection of the man who spurned her many years before remains intensely satisfying and supplies two of the meatiest and most challenging roles in the repertoire.”

British Theatre Guide: “If any of you are interested in reading a good translation of the book, I can recommend Stanley Mitchell’s, decades in the making. Otherwise go and see this condensed, intense version, you won’t be sorry.”

The Arts Desk: **** “It’s no surprise that audiences love John Cranko’s Onegin, with its vividly economical narrative (close to Tchaikovsky’s opera), attractive decors by Jürgen Rose, and intelligent drama.”

Onegin continues to be performed at the Royal Opera House until the 29th February.


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