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'EUGENE ONEGIN' AND THE NOMINATION OF AN ÉTOILE

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 8 APRIL 2014 — On each occasion that John Cranko’s Eugene Onegin, one of the most popular ballets of the twentieth century, is programmed at the Paris Opera, it signals an exceptional event, for in 2009, when it entered into the repertoire of the French company, it was the ballet chosen by étoile Manuel Legris to give his farewell appearance. The 2012 staging saw the last minute replacement of an injured Nicolas Le Riche by the tall, darkly handsome Canadian dancer, Evan McKie, who gave an unforgettable performance, while this year marked not only the departure of étoile Isabelle Ciaravola, but also the nomination of Amandine Albisson to the rank of étoile, both emotional moments.


Amandine Albisson in Onegin
Photo: Julien Benhamou

For some time now the attractive ballerina, looking younger than her 25 years, who was awarded the Carpeaux prize in 2009 and the AROP prize in 2013, has been interpreting leading roles, from La Sylphide and Sleeping Beauty, to Roland Petit’s La plus belle fille du Monde and Le Rendezvous, taking over the role created for Sylvie Guillem in Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated. With a supple, perfect physique added to her considerable dramatic gifts and effortless technique, she is more than ready to take on the responsibility of many of the leading roles in the Paris Opera’s repertoire. Albisson was nominated étoile on stage at the Palais Garnier on March 5th, by artistic director Brigitte Lefèvre and Nicolas Joel, director, after her outstanding performance in Onegin.

As Tatiana Larina ,one of the most sought after and difficult roles for almost any ballerina, Albisson gave a subtle yet passionate portrayal of the dreamy young girl who, imagining herself the heroine of all the romantic novels she reads, falls in love with the penniless loner and aristocrat, Eugene Onegin.
 
As an impressionable eighteen year-old, she danced the ‘mirror ‘pas de deux with youthful freshness and light, little knowing that true love for her exists only in dreams, and yet in the final act, in Prince Gremin’s elegant and aristocratic palace ten years later, she had the grace and style of a mature, St. Petersburg princess whose loyalty is to her gentle, kind-hearted husband rather than the worthless Onegin.


Amandine Albisson and Josua Hoffalt in Onegin
Photo: Julien Benhamou

Partnered by the romantic Josua Hoffalt as Onegin, pleading with her for what she once offered freely, she reminds us that she has grown up; that she is now a married woman and despite still loving him passionately, breaks her own heart as well as that of the audience in a last, highly emotional, theatrical pas de deux, ending in her dramatic dismissal of him.

As far as the corps de ballet is concerned, it is very much a ballet of the 1970’s, with pretty but fairly conventional choreography. The dancers almost dissolve into the décor as the interest is concentrated on four young people who, for different reasons, will never find love. The pas de deux between Olga and Lensky, interpreted on this occasion by Marion Barbeau and Fabien Révillion, both young members of the corps de ballet, are playful and tender, while those between Onegin and Tatania are conflictind and intense.

However, despite the title of the work, the ballet belongs to Tatania, just as this very magical evening belonged to Amandine.

Based in Paris, Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque. 

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