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The Chilling & Beautiful Onegin

Hee Seo & David Hallberg in Onegin. Photo: Gene Schiavone

A superb season at American Ballet Theater continued for me on the evening of Saturday, June 24th, with the revival of the underappreciated Eugene Onegin choreographed by the now undervalued John Cranko and set to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by Kurt-Heinz Stolze. (Interestingly, the music is not drawn from the composer's extraordinary homonymous opera, adapted from the immortal poem by Alexander Pushkin, but from various other works.) Cranko is significant for his wonderful and equally unsung staging of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella which had been a fabulous vehicle for the brilliant David Hallberg as the Prince; regrettably, the company's production seems to have been retired although it has gratifyingly been replaced with the even greater version choreographed by the sublime Frederick Ashton. Onegin is also notable for sets and costumes designed by Santo Loquasto.

The cast that I saw was outstanding, led by the incomparable and iconic Hallberg in the title role, revealing his actorly powers as well as his celebrated abilities as a dancer. Principal Hee Seo—who shone this season in Giselle—touchingly excelled as Tatiana.

The secondary cast beautifully complemented the leads, above all with the stellar Jeffrey Cirio as Lensky, elegantly partnered by Skylar Brandt as Olga. The dashing Thomas Forster was effective in the small role of Prince Gremin while thecorps de balletsustained its very fine work throughout this season in the delightfully choreographed ensemble dances.

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