Archives de Tag: James Tuggle

Onéguine : le temps du bilan

P1060935Les Balletonautes n’auront pas boudé cette reprise 2014 d’Onéguine puisque en neuf représentations ils ont réussi à voir l’ensemble des distributions d’étoiles. La série aura été riche en émotions et autres rebondissements plus ou moins prévisibles.

SAME OLD, SAME OLD…

Commençons par le plus tristement prévisible : le jeu de chaises musicales dans les distributions. Il n’y avait guère besoin d’être devin pour deviner qu’avec trois distributions maison (et pas de remplaçants) pour assurer treize représentations, la série se trouverait peu ou prou chamboulée. C’est effectivement ce qui s’est passé. Myriam Ould-Braham n’a pas dansé Olga, qu’elle avait créée en 2009. Mathieu Ganio s’est blessé et Laëtitia Pujol n’a pas pu -ou n’a pas voulu- incarner Tatiana sur la scène de l’Opéra. Hervé Moreau a dû abandonner deux représentations en début de série et Ludmila Pagliero, enfin, a créé la surprise en se blessant. On la croyait indestructible.

Face à cette situation, la direction de l’Opéra a catapulté un Lenski dans le rôle titre (Josua Hoffalt) et a fait appel à des invités de Stuttgart.

LE TACT FRANÇAIS

Tel un chat de gouttière aguerri, l’Opéra s’est sorti de cette situation délicate en retombant sur ses pattes. Pour l’élégance, en revanche, on repassera. Evan McKie, étoile du ballet de Stuttgart, avait déjà sauvé des représentations en 2011 en dansant aux côtés d’Aurélie Dupont. Enthousiasmant, en dépit de sa glaciale partenaire, il aurait mérité cette saison une invitation en bonne et due forme. En lieu de cela, il  a été, une fois encore traité en roue de secours et seuls les chanceux, dont Cléopold faisait partie (le 4/02), ont eu la chance de voir son Onéguine à la fois délicieusement affecté et prédateur.

Plus tard dans la série, c’est Alicia Amatriain, elle aussi de Stuttgart, qui vint suppléer l’absence de Ludmila Pagliero (les 25 et 4 mars). Heureux Karl Paquette ! Partenaire attentif mais un peu éteint avec sa Tatiana d’origine, Ludmila Pagliero (projetant peu également), il s’est trouvé comme transfiguré lorsqu’il était aux prises avec la belle espagnole de Stuttgart (le 25/02), un compromis entre la ligne étirée d’une Marianela Nuñez et l’engagement dans le partenariat d’une Cojocaru si l’on en croit Cléopold (4 mars). La demoiselle se laissait porter sur la vague de ses inflexions à la fois assurées et passionnées. James, chatouilleux sur la question des droits individuels et collectifs, a fait remarquer que l’Opéra avait moins communiqué sur la venue du beau monsieur que sur celle de la jolie madame de Stuttgart. Si près de la journée de la femme, nous pensions qu’il fallait le mentionner.

LE ROI EST MORT. VIVE LE ROI ET TOUT LE TRALALA…

L’un des pics émotionnels de la série d’Onéguine aura été la soirée d’adieu d’Isabelle Ciaravola.

Les Balletonautes ne se sont pas privés de boire à la source de la toute première Tatiana nationale, nommée sur ce rôle bien tardivement. Cléopold s’est extasié sur sa capacité à rentrer dans la peau d’une adolescente malgré son physique de diva (le 4/02), James a savouré sa représentation du 16 mars et Fenella celle du 25 avant de tous se retrouver à la grand messe des adieux le 28 février. C’est James qui a célébré

« Son pied à l’affolante courbure, ou bien la demi-pointe si finement marquée qu’on jurerait que le chausson est un gant, ou encore l’immense – que dis-je ? – l’infini des jambes. Mais il y a aussi le regard d’aigle, profond, perçant, la chevelure de jais, et puis les doigts et les bras qui disent tant. »

Son  partenaire, Hervé Moreau, a bâti un personnage dont la froideur avait la pesanteur marmoréenne du tombeau. Les Balletonautes ont admiré son parcours silencieux, son aura mystérieuse et son déchirement final, si tragique parce que venu trop soudainement et trop tard.

Chacun s’est néanmoins félicité d’avoir pu admirer l’astre Ciaravola  un autre soir que celui où elle a disparu sous une pluie d’or de paillettes étoilées. Ce genre de soirée est paradoxalement peu propice à l’émotion habituellement distillé par une représentation. Tout le monde, sans s’en rendre compte, semble se réserver pour la suite…

Dans le genre « grand messe », il y a aussi la nomination.

C’est censé être inattendu. On vous dit que cela couronne une représentation exceptionnelle mais dans le même temps, il faut déplacer le directeur de la danse et le directeur de l’Opéra sur scène qui se sont concertés afin de prendre une décision somme toute administrative.  Un nomination n’est donc jamais une « surprise » pour le principal intéressé et sa représentation s’en trouve nécessairement altérée. Il y a donc peu de chance pour que le spectateur assiste à un moment d’exception.

Bien que la date ait pu surprendre (moins d’une semaine après les adieux d’Isabelle Ciaravola et le jour initialement prévu pour ses adieux), les Balletonautes se réjouissent néanmoins de la nomination d’Amandine Albisson car ses représentations du 24 et du 26 février ont montré tout le potentiel de la demoiselle aux côtés d’un Josua Hoffalt à la colère juvénile. Pour reprendre la formule de Cléopold : « Tout cela est encore un peu vert, mais possède les charmes et les promesses du printemps. ». Comme lui, James a été touché par cette Tatiana « qui n’a pas craint d’exprimer le déchirement intérieur de Tatiana jusqu’à la laideur ». Dans le pas de deux final, pour l’un de ses effondrements dans les bras d’Onéguine, l’une de ses jambes en attitude « semblait une branche morte ».

Alors, nommée trop rapidement, Amandine Albisson ? A vingt-quatre ans, quand on est danseur, on n’est plus si jeune que cela. La génération Noureev a été souvent promue beaucoup plus jeune. Alors ne faisons pas la fine bouche et saluons le fait que, pour une fois, la directrice de la danse ne nous a pas offert une énième étoile carte vermeille. Une nomination cela n’est pas un bâton de maréchal mais bien un pari sur l’avenir. Amandine Albisson est nommée au bon moment dans la carrière d’un danseur, à elle maintenant de devenir une étoile. Elle en a les moyens mais surtout le temps.

RICHESSE ET DIVERSITE DES JEUX D’ACTEURS

En dépit de toutes ses péripéties, la série des Onéguine aura été globalement enrichissante pour les spectateurs assidus que nous sommes. Les Tatiana furent presque toutes personnelles et attachantes ainsi que l’a si bien dit Fenella.

« Si Ciaravola utilisait son corps pour transcrire de longues notes tenues d’Aria qui vous convainquent d’avoir entendu la brise chanter avec elle, Alicia Armatriain vous apportait des bourrasques et des micro climats étonnamment tempétueux tandis qu’Amandine Albisson incarnait un ciel lumineux s’assombrissant lentement avant l’averse.»

Chez les Onéguine, on a été frappé par la différence fondamentale entre l’approche « française » du rôle et celle de l’invité de Stuttgart. Dans la compagnie de Cranko, le personnage éponyme du ballet reste jusqu’au bout le produit de son éducation. L’approche d’Evan McKie, très prédatrice, est d’ailleurs assez proche de celle de Jason Reilly (un autre danseur-pompier de Stuttgart : il avait remplacé Johan Kobborg, blessé, aux côtés d’Alina Cojocaru à Londres l’an dernier). A Paris, les Onéguine sont plus « tragiques ». Les repentirs de messieurs Moreau, Paquette et Hoffalt sont sincères. Ils trahissent de fait Pouchkine mais recentrent un peu le ballet sur le personnage principal masculin. Lorsque Onéguine est trop détestable, on a envie d’appeler le ballet « Tatiana ».

Deux Lenski très différents ont dominé notre série. Mathias Heymann (le 4, 23 et 28/02), sa clarté naïve, et Fabien Révillion (les 24, 25, 26/02 et le 4/03), écorché et fataliste. Il était particulièrement agréable de remarquer la nouvelle maturité artistique du second. La scène où il repousse les deux sœurs éplorées venues le dissuader de se battre restera dans nos mémoires avec ses deux sissonnes modulées qui avaient l’éloquence d’un cri.

Tout n’a pas été aussi bien pour Marc Moreau (le 16), que James a trouvé trop vert pour le rôle ni surtout pour Florent Magnenet qui a délivré une interprétation brouillonne, aussi bien dramatiquement que techniquement, du poète malheureux.

Les Olga auront été techniquement d’un niveau plus homogène mais très individuelles dans leurs interprétations : Charline Giezendanner (les 4, 16, 23, 28/02), charmante tête folle ; Eve Grinztajn (les 10, 25/02 et le 403), élégante, d’ores et déjà une Tatiana en puissance, et enfin Marion Barbeau (les 24 et 26/02), jubilante, téméraire, et délicieusement terre à terre.

Les Balletonautes se sont rendu compte rétrospectivement qu’ils avaient été bien légers avec les Princes Grémine. Ce rôle de caractère a pourtant son importance dans le ballet puisqu’il vient donner une indication sur le genre de vie que Tatiana mène après la brève et dramatique expérience de son premier éveil à l’amour. Fenella et James ont bien parlé de Karl Paquette (les 4, 23 et 28/02), mari solide mais peu exaltant mais n’ont pas rendu suffisamment hommage à Christophe Duquenne (les 10 et 25/02), Grémine conscient de sa position de « second » dans le cœur de sa femme mais néanmoins aimant. On a profondément regretté d’avoir été privé de son Onéguine. Annoncé comme remplaçant pour la deuxième série consécutive, il n’a obtenu aucune date. Vincent Cordier (les 24, 26/02 et 4/03), enfin a fait dire à James qu’au bras de ce mari attentionné, on pouvait « s’accrocher les jours de grand vent ».

Dans cette peinture intimiste, à l’instar de l’Opéra, les chœurs dansés ont leur importance. Les grandes diagonales de jetés qui clôturent la première scène, les deux scènes de réceptions des acte deux et trois, la théorie (plus Chateaubriand que Pouchkine) des fantômes des femmes passées au bal des Grémine. Tous ces passages ont été ciselés par le corps de ballet. Les danses de caractère claquaient du talon avec une énergie revigorante. Dans les passages joués en revanche, et surtout pour l’anniversaire de Tatiana, on aurait aimé que les garçons et les filles mènent leurs pantomimes de séduction de manière plus naturelle. La peinture des invités plus âgés confinait quant à elle au carton-pâte. Cela nous avait paru mieux réglé à la dernière reprise.

Rien de suffisant en somme pour nous gâcher le plaisir, d’autant que la partition de Tchaïkovski rassemblée en 1965 par Kurt-Heinz Stolze brillait sous la baguette assurée de James Tuggle à la tête d’une formation de l’Opéra de Paris qu’on n’avait pas vu aussi disciplinée depuis longtemps.

Onéguine… Bientôt une reprise ? Nous votons « pour ».

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Onegin: “Leave the ashes, what survives is gold.” *

P1050181ONEGUINE by John Cranko at the Palais Garnier in Paris
Tuesday, February 25: Amatriain, Paquette, Grinsztajn, Révillion
Wednesday, February 26: Albisson, Hoffalt, Barbeau, Révillion

This past week, anticipation of Isabelle Ciarvola’s farewell performance kind of sucked up the energy of many of us devoted spectators. But…

“The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that he heard it once: we shall hear it by-and-by.” [Robert Browning, Abt Vogler]

Other voices need to be heard too. And these two casts gave new music to us who live far beneath the sky, and new alchemies that spun distinct varieties of gold.

If Ciaravola used her body to transcribe long arcs of arias where you suddenly are convinced you hear the breeze sing along with her, then Alicia Armatriain (stepping in from Stuttgart for the injured Ludmila Pagliero) provided flickering and unexpectedly thunderous microclimates while Amandine Albisson embodied a luminous sky slowly darkening toward heavy rain. Each Tatiana, then, created her own kind of weather.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?” [Andrea del Sarto]

P1060930

Alicia Amatriain and Karl Paquette as seen by Cléopold on the 4th of March

Armatriain belongs to the reckless tribe of Alina Cojocaru and Marcia Haydée, each only interested in sucking out the emotional nectar deep inside the combination of steps and shapes demanded by their choreographer. Even at the risk of awkwardness, they trust us in the audience be their camera, their mirror, their oxygen, their adrenaline. Our guest Tatiana can do beyond 6 o’clock, but when she does 190 degrees sideways – almost flattening Lensky – the intent, the urgency of why she has pounced upon him, has everything to do with entering into the emotional pitch of the moment.

Armatriain dances and acts her role as if she were a thoroughbred filly, tense and hyper-reactive. So changeable that two bad movies about Van Gogh came to mind: scenes of where the genius slaps blobs of color onto canvas seemingly arbitrarily but then suddenly we see the sky fill with stars. But a superb horse, like a superb painter, is always slightly unhinged: will he fly across the steppes or smack into a wall? That’s how scary and unpredictable her jumps into and out of Onegin’s arms – the reckless way she pushed up off of his hands! — could feel.

Find the scene in Nils Tavernier’s film “Etoiles” where, just before a performance of Doux Mensonges, Wilfried Romoli tries to rein in Celine Talon’s “ick-eek-eek!” response to one of those trickily calibrated lifts where Jiri Kylian seems to slyly honor to his mentor, John Cranko. Somehow last Thursday the opposite happened, and thus Paquette could concentrate on carving out his own Onegin. Armatriain’s abandon visibly freed him up to react to, not anticipate, all she threw at him: “Well, if she’s not afraid I’ll drop her then I’m gonna have fun here too!”

Here alchemy happened and Karl Paquette finally got a chance to stop being stereotyped as “Mr. Nice Guy Reliable Partner” and let fly. His Onegin grew in confidence and became lithe and loose and even greedy. Do you remember the enormous grin that crossed your face when you leapt onto the upper saddle of a see-saw, hoping to knock the other grinning kid sitting down at the ground way up in the air? That’s what their partnering kept feeling like (I mean the word “felt”: I caught myself twitch in response, and realized the person in front of me did as well).

The Letter/Dream scene took on a special flavor, as if this were partly Onegin’s dream too. As if it illustrated an epiphany. I sensed perhaps I was simultaneously witnessing Onegin’s first reaction to reading her letter. A bright electric flash of joy – “could this be something I could feel?” I could imagine his pulse thickening at soon as he started perusing her missive, briefly alive, until the moment he folded it up again and sighed “what might have been.” This duet, conceived to illustrate an interior monologue, became a dialogue.

Joy and release within reach, the “Spring Waters” Soviet-style crotch lift – and other lifts – that Cranko so tenderly re- appropriated  here seemed to really come out of nowhere and everywhere. James Tuggle, a most sensitive conductor who actually watches the stage throughout, sometimes gently stretches out the musical line to give his couples time to get into lift-off position. This night he didn’t have to, and accelerated.

Less chilly, Paquette’s Onegin had an eye for the women from the start. He reminded me that Pushkin makes Onegin tease Lensky: “if I were a poet, I’d have picked this one instead.” A slightly avuncular tinge also signaled the patronizing (and so cruel in its own way) speech with which he will return Tatiana’s letter in the original text. So, when haunted by the ghosts of women past, you could understand what he had thought he had seen in each will o’ the wisp that passed through his arms. And all the regrets of so many lives not lived to the full.

“Escape me?
Never – Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.” [Life in a Love]

If, in my opinion, Hervé Moreau’s Onegin of the 23rd surely headed out to drown in the Neva, Paquette’s of the 25th will probably drink himself to death while savoring every single morsel of his memories. Josua Hoffalt’s Onegin of the 26th, on the contrary, will just shut himself away in darkened rooms and slowly – and most determinately — let himself starve and fade away, staring angrily at his own reflection.

“Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!” [Bishop Blougram’s Apology]

The conductor James Tuggle, Albisson, Hoffalt, Barbeau and Révillion on February 26, 2014

The conductor James Tuggle, Albisson, Hoffalt, Barbeau and Révillion on February 26, 2014

For last Wednesday Hoffalt’s Tatiana, Amadine Albisson, seemed as milky and addictive as curds and whey. Here all the lines were pure and cleanly shaped, all the steps full out, but never wild. She’s too young to channel Rachel or Callas the way Ciaravola now knows, but she’s mature enough to trust herself. Thus, her simple – but not simplistic – approach to the role reminded me more of Romy Schneider’s hope-filled (but in no way saccharine) Sissi than the still and sad-eyed Elisabeth she would later learn to evoke for Visconti. Men have told me their eyes were somehow drawn to the nape of Schneider’s neck, as I was to the way Albisson arched hers.

She was up against some partner: Hoffalt, irritable and nervy as if he were fleeing more than boring St. Petersburg society. As if he had already killed someone and needed time – and not more annoyances – to figure it out why he still needed to be alive. His pure and plucked-taught lines grew out of the energy of the music (and one day he will learn to bring this same commitment to those Petipa princes) and meshed with Albisson’s.

“My sun sets to rise again” [At the ‘Mermaid’]

On both nights Fabien Révillion’s varied and apt attack, his rhythmic and assured punctuation of perfectly executed and extenuated steps all free of hops and bobbles, made me wonder where this youth-filled poet had been all my life. Steps are only, after all, metaphors for words. Perhaps Lensky has delved too deeply into the German Romantics, but this one filled out his steps and let us watch him grow from a boy into a man overnight. A goofy grin and fleet-footed gayety gave way to a wrenching solo on the eve of the duel where he too let go of the expected. This Lensky punched at the air with all the force in his body, tried to slap at the sky, and seemed to want to yell at his younger self for bringing on the fate bearing down on his body. Where Heymann begged succor from the moon, Révillion’s outstretched arms cursed it. Arching backwards, he seemed to understand how foolish he had been to only smile for so many wasted years before daring to kiss either Eve Grinsztajn’s bewitching or Marion Barbeau’s touchingly forthright and sunny Olga. Révillion’s and Barbeau’s lines, sense of weight, and complementary look bode for an adorable partnership. I hope to see them paired again in a ballet with a happy ending.

“Lo, life again knocked laughing at the door!
The world goes on, goes ever, in and through,
And out again o’ the cloud.” [Balaustion’s Adventure]

*“Leave the ashes, what survives is gold.”  is taken from Robert Browning’s  « Rabbi ben Ezra. »

 

Commentaires fermés sur Onegin: “Leave the ashes, what survives is gold.” *

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Onegin: “Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!” [Robert Browning, Epilogue to Asolando]

P1010032Onéguine at the Palais Garnier. At a Sunday matinee, February 23, 2014: Ciaravola, Moreau, Giezendanner, Heymann, Paquette.

I knew I would not be able to add to the comments of those who attended Ciaravola’s adieux this last Friday. So this will be about an earlier performance by the same cast, very different in its nuances because artists bring new colors to a character every time they step into the light.
Frankly, I didn’t want to talk about this penultimate performance either and procrastinated. Out of selfishness. I wanted to lock the memories away in a tiny, golden, silk-lined box that I, and only I, could peek into. I would inhale these varied and delicious fragrances during those dark moments when I’d forgotten that the technical demands of dance are only meant to enable dancers to embody poetry in motion, to distill song into drops of perfume, to free emotion from the bonds of words and technique itself. It’s been a long time since a performance made me remember all the ways it can feel like to be sixteen.

COUNTRYSIDE

“The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay/Chin upon hand, to see the game at play.” [Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came]

Right away, the complex loving bond between Isabelle Ciaravola –Tatiana (boy, does she make “chin in hand, reading” come alive!) and her utterly guileless and radiant little sister (Charline Giezendanner-Olga) warmed the heart. With her torso always just ever so slightly inclined forward as in a 19th century lithograph, fleet and buoyant, Giezendanner seemed to be humming to herself the opera’s teasing and guileless “when I hear those songs, all I want to do is dance.”

“She looked at him, as one who awakes:/The past was a sleep, and her life began.” [The Statue and the Bust]

Both sisters let us experience this. Giezendanner folds naturally and sweetly into Mathias Heymann-Lensky’s open chest. Their duet didn’t look like a series of steps, but as if Olga had added “to dance…with you” to her song and the tenor’s “I love you” could be heard whispered in the background at the same time. Their lines, musical attack, their innate feeling for spin and then drift in balance and then to gently de-accelerate always brought them together. Heymann achieves one of the hardest, yet simplest, things: on your very first day of ballet class, the teacher tells you to always use your upper body in 1st to 5th “as if you were holding the sun inside your arms.” Most of us never get there. Heymann does that, and carries that over into partnering too.

“For I say, this is death, and the sole death,/When a man’s loss comes to him from his gain,/Darkness from light, from knowledge ignorance./ And lack of love from love made manifest.” [De Gustibus]

Hervé Moreau’s instantly provided a man truly depressed who saw all of life in dull grey and could feel nothing deeply, high nor low. He seemed to add another – much less cynical — albeit efficiently cold– layer of backstory to Pushkin’s already dense Chapter One. Something in the eyes, a soft and sinuous attack added to a mysterious aura, where something seemed frozen inside. He distilled the essence of exactly the kind of man so many women feel they need to “help.” He gave a glimmer (through a shoulder or a hand) that even if life he believed life sucked he didn’t too much mind being touched on the shoulder by this young girl.

Moreau here gave us that Parisian purity of subtle technique and épaulement that American critics deem cold because they seem to want all dancers, like waiters, step out onstage and say “Hi, my name is Bob and I will be serving you ten pirouettes tonight.” Well, he certainly served up a haunted solo, where he sang only for himself, not us, and especially not for Tatiana. I had a hard time taking my eyes off of Ciaravola just watching him dance. Her delicate little movements, not in the least intended to upstage – a hand on the heart moving up to the neck and down to the solar plexus; a sigh, widened eyes; an arm starting to reach out but checked — responded to each moment of his soliloquy as if trying to turn it into a conversation. Indeed I have the oddest feeling that I was tricked into seeing him through her eyes: he is unhappy because he doesn’t understand himself.

DREAM

“At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,/ When you set your fancies free.” [Epiglogue to Asolando]

This is embarrassing, but here goes. Watching the dream scene with these two, I felt as shocked and defenseless as Anton Ego the food critic in “Ratatouille”  when a bite of food zapped him back into his mother’s kitchen. That’s it! At sixteen (were those the days?) imagining being kissed on the nape of your neck and then leaping into a big lift was as far as your fantasy could stretch. John Cranko understood us.

Pure romanticism, completely seen from Tatiana’s viewpoint, with the orchestra – for once playing coherently for this series under James Tuggle’s responsive direction – stretching and pausing the music to match and suspend in thin air the dreamlike floating ethereal innocent electricity that connected Ciaravola to Moreau. Of course I know the steps require her to jump and help her partner, the skill he needs to make her seem to swoop and hit the ground precisely, but I could forget all that and all I could see was a young girl suspended in thin air, the way you find it normal fly in your dreams.

DUEL

“White shall not neutralize the black, nor good/Compensate bad in man, absolve him so:/Life’s business being just the terrible choice.” [The Ring and the Book].

Because we all know about his horrible injury, how much do I read into Heymann’s steps now? Each time I see him, I cannot determine whether he uses his body to express love of life or to sing his love of dance for they seem completely intertwined. Heymann danced more than full out, using Cranko’s up and down, forward and backward, arching and aching steps to articulate every thought that might occur to a man who knows he has willingly brought on his own demise and needs to use this one last chance to feel every part of his body from the top of his head to the tips of his fingers to the ends of his toes. He filled space the way Sergei Lemeshev’s voice did in 1937:  I found Giezendanner and Ciaravola nuanced their pleas to him – no mistake, despite the confusing schmattes, which of them was the loved one and which one the fond older sister — doubling his trouble.

ONEGIN AT GREMIN’S

“For life, with all its yields of joy and woe,/ And hope and fear, – believe the aged friend – /Is just a chance o’ the prize of learning love.” [De Gustibus]

Moreau, slightly gray-powdered and thankfully without the moustache, gave tensile strength and more than a touch of despair to the “ghosts of women past” scene. Indeed, he reminded me of how the choreography here feeds on Albrecht’s encounter with the wilis.

Karl Paquette’s Gremin, who had proved most present and observant at Mme. Larina’s country ball, has clearly figured out what happened, and certainly knows that even if his radiant wife “adores” him — a Ciaravola too obviously smiling and relaxing into these much less taxing but, oh, so more reliable arms — she doesn’t really love him “that way.” His melancholy and reserved prince had a bit of Siegfried lurking around the edges. Courtly, properly proud to present his wife, here Paquette, in the way he touched and manipulated his wife’s body, fully expressed a complicated melancholy – an inner life and story – that proved compelling. I’ve not often wished Gremin to have a solo, as in the opera, before. Sunday’s Gremin would have deserved one.

FINAL SCENA

“Love, we are in God’s hand. How strange now looks the life he makes us lead. / So free we seem, so fettered fast we are.” [Andrea del Sarto].

I could hear his letters, I could swear I heard her monologue. And for the first time in a very long time I began to wonder about how it all would end and actually started hoping for them to run off together à la Karenina. No two combinations were the same, every look, every fall, added more words. A dense thicket of call and response. I don’t quite know how Moreau managed to grab Ciaravola’s shoulders in so many varied ways, to kiss her neck both as gently and as ravenously as if his life depended on it. He communicated (especially in the way he progressively opened up his catches after the lifts) how his eyes and chest had been forced open by this dazzling creature.

Pushkin leaves the reader dangling: “you’ve heard enough about our hero, I will leave him and you be.” This Onegin obviously heads out to leap into the Neva, and this Tatiana knows that. But in the moment before his body hits the icy river, Onegin will experience the happiness that had eluded him so far: he will forever remember how Ciaravola melted for a few seconds into his needy heart.
So will we.

Isabelle Ciaravola and Hervé Moreau. [Farewell performance, February 28th]

Isabelle Ciaravola and Hervé Moreau. [Farewell performance, February 28th]

Commentaires fermés sur Onegin: “Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!” [Robert Browning, Epilogue to Asolando]

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