Photo via here
Did you see this photo on the front page of the New York Times last week? It took my breath away. First of all, it was something on the front page to smile about. Second, it was such a beautiful image. And third, it reminded me of the romance of ballet.
With Valentine's Day coming up, you might consider going to a ballet. It is one of the most romantic of the arts. Are you a fan? I love it and try to go whenever I have the opportunity. Recently I was thinking about a ballet I saw two years ago in New York. It was a stunning production of Onegin performed by the American Ballet Theatre. I had never seen it before and thought it was one of the most dramatic and romantic of all the ballets. It is a tale of love, anguish, and revenge. I'll never forget the curtain call at the end. For some reason, curtain calls make me teary-eyed and this one was no exception. Let me tell you what happened.
The 2013 production of Onegin by The American Ballet Company
Onegin is based on the verse-novel Eugene Onegin written by the Russian writer Pushkin. As I watched this wonderful production, I was swept away by all the romantic elements it had to offer. It took me away from the everyday to a fantasy world where grand emotion and heroism played out. It was as if I was watching a great Russian novel come to life. In addition to the dramatic story, I was swept away by the the music, the costumes, the sets, and the skill and beauty of the dance.
The story is about a young man name Onegin. He is an arrogant and bored aristocrat who comes to the countryside to visit his friend Lensky. Lensky is betrothed to a young woman named Olga. Onegin meets Olga's sister Tatiana at a ball and frivolously flirts with her. She is flattered by his attention and begins to fall in love with him. She rushes home to write him a love letter and by the time she delivers it, he has lost interest in her. He rips up the letter in front of her. She is devastated and returns home to nurse a broken heart. In the meantime, Onegin flirts with Lensky's fiance Olga at a ball and Olga playfully flirts back. Lensky is furious and challenges Onegin to a duel. During the duel Lensky is killed.
Many years go by and Tatiana has married a Prince and become a confident and happy woman. In St. Petersburg Tatiana and her husband attend a ball where they meet Onegin. He regrets his arrogance and stupidity in rejecting Tatiana all those years ago and tries to win her back. He writes her a love letter. In the last scene he comes to her room and tries to seduce her. Although she is tempted, she ultimately rejects him and, in a crushing blow, rips up the letter he had written her. The curtain falls.
The sets were gorgeous -- this is the opening of the first act
The bedroom where the young Tatiana writes her love letter to Onegin
The ballroom where Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel
Another ballroom where Onegin meets Tatiana as a happily married woman
The costumes were beautiful
The dancing was dazzling
And the last scene steals the show as Onegin begs Tatiana to take him back
The applause was immense as the the curtain came down and the dancers took their bows. When the two dancers who played Onegin and Tatiana came out the audience cheered loudly. They had given incredible performances. Tatiana was handed a bouquet of yellow roses. She quickly plucked out a stem and gave it to Onegin, who held it to his heart. This beautiful gesture made the audience erupt into thunderous applause. And there was more. At their final curtain call the two dancers exchanged a romantic kiss. Everyone in the audience was thrilled that the dancers were prolonging the fantasy of the ballet. Leading us to wonder, did Tatiana still love Onegin after all? It was a romantic gesture that kept alive the magic and beauty of our time in the theatre. A little gift for us to take home. It's one curtain call I will never forget.
If you are a ballet fan and get a chance to see Onegin, don't miss it. You will love it!