AFTER a long drought, foreign ballet companies are performing in, Washington again.
The Stuttgart, one of the most venerable European ballet companies, first achieved international fame during the '60s, with the late John Cranko at the helm. Cranko, born in South Africa and trained in England, built up a repertoire that emphasized the classics plus his own full-length, dramatic ballets. He also assembled a roster of artists from all over the world, among them the renowned ballerina Marcia Haydee (currently artistic director of the company) and her equally gifted partner, Richard Cragun.
For the first week of its Washington run, the company will focus on two contrasting, evening-length ballets: Cranko's "Eugene Onegin" and John Neumeier's "A Streetcar Named Desire." "Onegin" -- the Stuttgart's "signature" work -- is based on the Alexander Pushkin novel of the same name, presenting the story of naive Tatiana's fixation on the urbane, and ultimately destructive, Onegin in grandiose theatrical terms. Interestingly, Cranko did not set his ballet to the score of the celebrated Tchaikovsky opera, but to music from several of the composer's lesser-known compositions.
"Streetcar," a Washington premiere, is based quite literally on Tennessee Williams' landmark play, and also set to the music of Russian composers: Serge Prokofiev and Alfred Schnittke. Haydee and Cragun dance the roles of Blanche and Stanley. THE STUTTGART BALLET -- Through June 8 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. "Streetcar" will be performed Friday at 8; "Onegin" on Saturday at 2 and 8, and Sunday at 1:30.