When the Royal Ballet performed Onegin in 2013, I wrote about differences in interpretation of the leading female role. For 2015, as well as a blog about the ballet’s insight evening, six facts about the novel that inspired it and a review of the Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding cast, I’m comparing interpretations of the title (male) role.
|Federico Bonelli and Laura Morera|
Photo: Bill Cooper / ROH
In contrast, Federico Bonelli had an unusual but equally compelling interpretation. His Onegin genuinely loved Laura Morera’s Tatiana, but pulled away – trying to be ‘cruel to be kind’ – because of his all-encompassing mental disturbance. When he rejected Tatiana and tore up her love letter, he even affectionately squeezed her shoulders as if to apologise for his actions.
In Act III, Bonelli’s Onegin became desperately aware that he had made a mistake, begging Tatiana to love him again. Older and having recovered (at least to some degree) from his psychological problems, the final pas de deux was a heartfelt attempt to express the ardour he’d felt for Tatiana for many years.