Ballet by John Cranko after Alexander Puschkin


Ballet by John Cranko after Alexander Puschkin
Choreography and Production
John Cranko
Peter I. Tschaikowsky, eingerichtet und instrumentiert von Kurt-Heinz Stolze
Stage and Costumes
Jürgen Rose
World Premiere
13. April 1965, Stuttgarter Ballett
Premiere of the revised version
27. Oktober 1967, Stuttgarter Ballett
Musical Direction
Wolfgang Heinz, Staatsorchester Stuttgart
John Cranko’s Onegin holds a special place in the choreographic repertoire of the second half of the 20th century as one of the few original full-length ballets. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s dramatic verse novel „Eugen Onegin“, the ballet tells the story of the arrogant and world weary aristocrat Onegin who rejects the love of the naïve country girl Tatiana only to realize - upon meeting her again years later - that in her he threw away the only woman who ever truly loved him and who was ever worth loving. Tatiana, by now matured and married to Prince Gremin, must battle with her emotions when Onegin seeks her out to confess his love. In one of the most heart wrenching scenes in all of classical ballet, Tatiana rejects Onegin although she secretly still loves him.

John Cranko’s absolute mastery of the art of the pas de deux finds its climax in Onegin, where each of the three main encounters between Onegin and Tatiana is so skillfully crafted and so superbly nuanced that by the final scene, the audience finds itself hopelessly caught up in the protagonists’ emotional turmoil. Set to sweeping music by Peter I. Tschaikovsky, and with lavish sets and costumes evoking 19th century Russia by Juergen Rose, Onegin is a must for all lovers of dramatic, full-length ballets.


Act I
Scene One: Madame Larina’s garden
Madame Larina, her daughter Olga and the nurse are sewing the party dresses for Tatiana’s birthday and gossiping about the upcoming festivities. Madame Larina speculates on her daughters’ future. Girls from the neighborhood arrive and play an old folk game: whoever looks into the mirror will see her beloved.
Lensky, a young poet engaged to Olga, arrives with a friend from St. Petersburg. He introduces Onegin, who, bored with the city, has come to see if the country can offer him any distraction. Tatiana, full of youthful and romantic fantasies, falls in love with the elegant stranger, so different from the country people she knows. Onegin, on the other hand, sees only a coltish girl who reads too many romantic novels.

Scene Two: Tatiana’s bedroom
Tatiana, her imagination aflame with impetuous first love, dreams of Onegin and writes him a passionate love letter which she gives to her nurse to deliver.
Act II
Scene One: Tatiana’s birthday
The provincial gentry have come to celebrate Tatiana’s birthday. Onegin finds the company boring. Stifling his yawns, he finds it difficult to be civil; furthermore, he is irritated by Tatiana’s letter which he regards merely as an outburst of adolescent love. In a quiet moment, he seeks out Tatiana and, telling her that he cannot possibly love her, destroys her letter. Tatiana’s distress, instead of awaking pity, merely increases his annoyance.
Prince Gremin, a distant relative of Madame Larina’s, joins the party. He is in love with Tatiana and Madame Larina hopes for a brilliant match; but Tatiana, troubled with her own heart, hardly notices her kind relative.
In his boredom Onegin decides to provoke Lensky by flirting with Olga, who light-heartedly joins in the teasing. Lensky takes the matter with passionate seriousness and challenges Onegin to a duel.
Scene One: St. Petersburg
Years later Onegin, having travelled the world in an attempt to escape from his own futility, returns to St. Petersburg. He is received at a ball in the palace of Prince Gremin. Gremin has married, and Onegin is astonished to recognize in the stately and elegant princess, Tatiana, the uninteresting little country girl whom once he rejected. The enormity of his mistake and loss engulfs him. His life now seems even more aimless and empty.

Scene Two: Tatiana’s boudoir
Onegin has written to Tatiana revealing his love and asking to see her, but she does not wish to meet him. In vain she pleads with her unsuspecting husband not to leave her alone this evening. Onegin comes and declares his love for her. In spite of her emotional turmoil, Tatiana realises that Onegin’s change of heart has come too late. Before his eyes she tears up his letter and orders him to leave her forever.
Anna Osadcenko as Tatiana and Jason Reilly as Onegin in John Cranko's "Onegin"
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky
Photo Roman Novitzky

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