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Moscow embraces stage version of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin

Russia's first theatrical production of the poet Alexander Pushkin's great novel in verse is lightened with dance

In Moscow's Arbat Street, tourists and souvenir shops have taken over from the bohemian youth that gathered there in the heyday of perestroika. Consumerist vulgarity has prevailed, but Alexander Pushkin, who lived here in the 1830s, is still holding out. A statue commemorates the great poet and for the past few months a masterly production of Eugene Onegin has been enjoying a roaring success at the Vakhtangov theatre.

Surprising as it may seem, Pushkin's great novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, which all Russians know by heart at least in part has never been adapted for the theatre. The success of Tchaikovsky's opera, composed in 1877-78, seems to have stifled any idea of basing a play on the same text. The dramatisation is the brainchild of Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas, 62, now artistic director of the Vakhtangov theatre, launched in 1920 by a former disciple of Konstantin Stanislavski. The adaptation was performed recently in Russian, with subtitles, at the MC93 arts centre at Bobigny, east of Paris, and will feature at the New York City Centre inat the end of May.

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