Rex Harrington as Eugene Onegin in Onegin (ca. 1996). Photo by Maria Falsini.


Our History

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The National Ballet of Canada premiered Onegin on June 14, 1984 as a part of the 1984 Toronto International Festival of Music and Dance.  Following a series of unfortunate injuries, the lead cast featuring Veronica Tennant as Tatiana and Luc Amyot as Eugene Onegin was replaced at the last minute by Sabina Allemann and Frank Augustyn

The Toronto Star review (June 15, 1984). 

Read the review 

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Stuttgart Ballet Principal Dancer Reid Anderson staged the National Ballet’s company premiere of Onegin, returning in 1985 to stage it again. On November 24, 1985, the final day of performances for the 1985 Fall Season, Anderson danced the title role of Eugene Onegin, joining Principal Dancer Karen Kain for the matinee performance, and Guest Artist Natalia Makarova for the evening performance.  Immediately following this double performance, Anderson retired from the stage. He went on to become Artistic Director of Ballet British Columbia, The National Ballet of Canada, and Stuttgart Ballet, where he has been Artistic Director for over a decade. 

Karen Kain and Reid Anderson as Tatiana and Eugene Onegin in Onegin (1984). 

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In 1986, Onegin was filmed for television as a co-production between Primedia Productions and CBC with RM Arts. The production starred the celebrated debut cast from 1984, Sabina Allemann as Tatiana and Frank Augustyn as Eugene Onegin.  Directed by Norman Campbell, the film premiered on CBC television on Sunday, November 9, 1986.  The following year, Onegin won Silver in the Performance Arts category at the Houston International Film Festival. 

Onegin film cover (1986). 

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The National Ballet of Canada’s production of Onegin has attracted some of the finest guest talent in the international ballet community. Dancers who have performed in Onegin with the National Ballet include Natalia Makarova and Ekaterina Maximova in the role of Tatiana, Fernando Bujones in the role of Lensky, and Nikolai Hübbe in the role of Eugene Onegin. 

Ekaterina Maximova and Rex Harrington as Tatiana and Eugene Onegin in Onegin (1990). 

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Known for his dramatic interpretation of the scoundrel Eugene Onegin, Rex Harrington’s final performance season featured Onegin. Toronto audiences saw Harrington’s final Toronto performance of the role at the Hummingbird Centre on November 30, 2003. Following that, a crowd of Harrington’s fans and peers were treated to his farewell performance of Onegin in Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on March 20, 2004. 

Rex Harrington with Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and National Ballet Founder Celia Franca backstage of his farewell Onegin show (March 20, 2004). 

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After more than 25 years of use, the sets and costumes from Onegin became too worn out and fragile to use. The National Ballet of Canada invited renowned American designer Santo Loquasto to redesign Onegin for the 2009/10 season. Loquasto’s designs adhere to the original Russian period of the production, but with a romantic interpretation that parallels the dramatic Cranko choreography and Byronic mood of the original Pushkin story. 

Set maquette of the ballroom from Act III (2009). 


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"My favourite memory of The National Ballet of Canada is Raymond Smith and Veronica Tennant burning up the stage in their extraordinary Onegin - smoke rose from the floor, I'm sure. That will always be the Onegin benchmark for me."

- Elizabeth Stewart, Audience Member, 30+ Years 

"My favourite memory of The National Ballet of Canada is Rex Harrington in Onegin. I loved watching Rex in every performance but in this he was fantastic. The way he could carry himself, his presence on stage, his dancing expressed every possible emotion he was supposed to project. The wardrobe was also superbly designed."

- Lubica Simovic, Audience Member, 20+ Years