Stuttgart’s Australian tour: Onegin and a galaxy of stars

As the Australian Ballet is bringing Onegin back to the stage next year, it’s interesting to recall that the first performance of the ballet in Australia was not by that company, but by the Stuttgart Ballet.

At the Mitchell Library in Sydney, I found the program for the tour that took place in October and November of 1974, less less than 18 months after the sudden death of John Cranko, the artistic director of the Stuttgart Ballet and the choreographer of Onegin.

That year, a galaxy of stars toured to Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, with their last appearance being at the Sydney Opera House on November 16.

The artistic director then was Glen Tetley, and the assistant director was Anne Woolliams, who, as artistic director of the Australian Ballet, brought Onegin into the company’s repertoire in December 1976.

The ballet manager was Dieter Gräfe, who owns the copyright to Cranko’s ballets.

But it’s the roster of dancers that intrigued me most. One of the seven soloists was Reid Anderson, now artistic director of the Stuttgart Ballet, while a second soloist was Jiri Kylian. His wife, Sabine Kupferberg was in the corps de ballet as was William Forsythe.

The ballerina, Marcia Haydée, danced the role of Tatiana with Heinz Clauss in the title role.

The repertoire also included Swan Lake and The Taming of the Shrew.

Michael Edgley brought the company to Australia in association with J C Williamson Theatres Ltd and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.

As for the program, I liked most of all a simple statement about Onegin by Cranko: “I have this great thing about doing ballet about real people”.