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HarpsichordConcerto
December 19th, 2011, 04:11 AM
Mazeppa (1881-1883, premiered, 1884)

Kirov Orchestra and Ballet, Valery Gergiev; 1996 production.

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Tchaikovsky wrote Mazeppa after Eugene Onegin and The Maid of Orleans, which showed he had several belts of opera experience. Whether or not this came through with Mazeppa can perhaps be anyone's opinion. I certainly think he probably did because Mazeppa was a masterpiece. I was carried through by the very strong orchestration of the vocal numbers and also the orchestral ones, such as the sumptuous dance suite (if you can call it that) during Act 1. Although according to the notes, Tchaikovsky even wrote a letter stating he wasn't really into the characters and took him considerable effort over two years to compose this, none of that showed. Many of the arias were of the vengeful type; characters bent on seeking revenge, raging, approving executions, going insane etc. and these numbers were strongly characterised by the music.

The staging, as one might expect from the heart of Russia, was thoroughly traditional. One got the feeling that very little had probably changed in terms of staging philosophy and artistic direction, perhaps since the one hundred years since its premiere and this recorded production. A beautiful, solid and no frivolity production that did what the plot and numbers wanted.

The only weak aspect might be the plot. An old king/aristocrat (representing the Tsar) was invited to another kingdom and during the evening's welcoming festivities, wanted the hand of the daughter of the host for marriage, though old enough to be her grandfather. All hell broke loose as a result. But the music strongly characterised it, beautiful staging, a strong cast and orchestra, and so who really cares? Only enjoyment!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2012, 11:49 PM
Tchaikovksy: The Maid of Orleans on DVD
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Q970A1YEL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

The Maid of Orleans, opera in four acts, sung in Russian (premiered in 1881 at the Mariinsky)
Music and libretto by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), after Schiller's play and other sources of the same story (Barbier, Mermet, Wallon)

1993 - Alexander Lazarev conducts the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Chorus.
Stage director Boris Pokrovsky. This is a film of a fully staged performance but without the public. TV direction is by Brian Large.

Cast:

Nina Rautio (Joan of Arc), Oleg Kulko (King Charles II), Mariya Gavrilova (Agnes Sorel), Mikhail Krutikov (Dunois), Vladimir Redkin (Lionel), Gleb Nikolsky (Archbishop), Arkady Mishenkin (Raymond), Maksim Mikhaylov II (Bertrand), Anatoly Babikin (Soldier), Zoya Smolyanikova (Angel), Vyacheslav Pochapsky (Thibaut)

Kultur Video 2005 DVD release, NTSC, 1.33:1, no choice of soundtrack other than stereo. Sharp image and very good sound. Optional subtitles in seven languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian. No extras. Bare-bones product with no liner notes other than a list of chapters.

There is no competition for this opera on DVD, as of the date of this review.

Here we have an old-fashioned performance with stock acting like is usually the case for these old Russian productions. It is done in traditional costumes, of a rather simple kind (but tasteful). Staging is unobtrusive and relatively sparse for the Bolshoi standards. There are banners reproducing 15th century paintings, the chorus sings from several platforms on stage linked by flights of stairs, there are chandeliers and flags, decorative elements (for example mimicking a cathedral) fall from the top, modifying the scenarios; it is all actually quite beautiful and solemn. At times one seems to be watching an oratorio (especially when the chorus comes forward).

Singing is uneven. Nina Rautio is not attractive and is not a gifted actress but she surely can sing, with a big, full dramatic voice. Her male counterparts as far as the baritones and basses are concerned do the usual good job of Russian singers in these Bolshoi productions. The tenor doing the king however is weak, and so is the soprano doing Agnes (she is cute, though).

The orchestra masters well the material and the sounds are beautiful.

Both the vocal writing and the orchestration are very exquisite and melodious. This is only my third Tchaikovsky opera (up to this point I was only familiar with Eugene Onegin and Pique Dame), and it sounds very different from the other two: much less Russian, much more French; it approaches a lot more the Grand Opéra style than the more authentically Russian material that we're used to hear from Tchaikovsky and even more from other Russian composers.

It's all very beautiful but the static, almost non-existing acting, risks a certain monotony and boredom (especially in this recording without the public - it all seems a bit canned). This is the kind of opera that could benefit from a modern revival since it is musically very enticing.

I'll say recommended (especially in the absence of competition, and given the good musical values - orchestra, lead singer, and most male singers - and good sound/image).

HarpsichordConcerto
January 6th, 2012, 11:05 PM
Has anyone here seen this? Pique Dame

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PQ8kfsjNL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZTAs0tB7Ts

Soave_Fanciulla
January 7th, 2012, 12:03 AM
Has anyone here seen this? Pique Dame

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PQ8kfsjNL._SL500_AA300_.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZTAs0tB7Ts

ooh yes, lots of times. I thought it was pretty good, loved Ewa Podles as the raddled old countess (although hard to believe she had ever been a beauty, unlike Elizabeth Soderstrom in the Met version. A fairly straight telling.

umm just one little thing - I might have been slightly influenced by the dashingness of Misha Didyk.

Schigolch
February 1st, 2012, 06:52 PM
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Conductor- Vassily Nebolsin, Moscow 1936


Onegin - Panteleimon Nortsov
Lensky - Sergei Lemeshev
Tatyana - Glafira Joukovskaya
Olga - Bronislava Zlatogorova
Larina - Maria Boutienina
Filipyevna - Konkordiya Antarova
Gremin - Alexander Pirogov
Triquet - Ivan Kovalenko

This is the first recorded Onegin, and a worthy candidate to be also the best.

Everything sounds here fresh and new. The lively tempi (sometimes a little bit too lively) used by Nebolsin contributing a lot to this impression, but also the young and unearthly beautiful voice of a wonderful Lemeshev, the absolute reference as Lensky. With such a singer, you pray it was Onegin, and not Lensky, the victim at the duel. And is not that Nortsov is a weak Onegin, far from it. His is a solid performance, it just belongs to a human kingdom, instead of to the Heavens. Joukovskaya is a properly romantic Tatyana, with a great 'Letter' scene. The lower voices are appropriate, with an outstanding Pirogov, such a noble and powerful bass, but that can also be so delicate while mentioning how he loves her young wife.

The sound, while it's not bad for a 1936 take, is not a strong point for this recording.

Overall: A

HarpsichordConcerto
February 2nd, 2012, 09:13 AM
That's interesting because Eugene Onegin premiered in 1879, only about 60 earlier than the above recording. I doubt much would have changed in terms of performance practice spanning between the premiere and what was recorded above, both in the same city.

Schigolch
February 2nd, 2012, 09:33 AM
http://www.freecodesource.com/album-cover/51tvphhddsL/-Tchaikovsky:-Eugene-Onegin.jpg

Conductor- Alexander Melik-Pachaïev, Moscow 1937

Onegin - Panteleimon Nortsov
Lensky - Ivan Kozlovsky
Tatyana - Elena Krouglikova
Olga - Elisabeta Antonova
Larina - Ludmila Roudnivskaya
Filipyevna - Vera Makarova
Gremin - Maxim Mikhailov
Triquet - Sergei Ostrokumov

In the 1930s there was an incredible rivalry between Sergei Lemeshev and Ivan Kozlovsky. Both were the biggest stars of the Bolshoi Opera, and they had a big number of followers. It was logical that after Lemeshev's recording, there were one with Kozlovsky. The only point in common was Nortsov, that offers again a solid, if unexciting, Onegin. Kozlovsky's Lensky is not the equal of Lemeshev's, not by any means, but it's a very good one, nonetheless. The weakest point is Krouglikova's Tatyana, a beautiful voice, but it sounds too mature for the role. Something similar could be said about Mikhailov, that delivers a properly aged Gremin, but somehow we are missing his love for Tatyana. Melik-Pachaïev's conducting is perhaps too mechanic.

Overall: B

Let's hear to Ivan Kozlovsky singing Lensky:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjGVNWG7T04

Schigolch
February 2nd, 2012, 09:57 AM
That's interesting because Eugene Onegin premiered in 1879, only about 60 earlier than the above recording. I doubt much would have changed in terms of performance practice spanning between the premiere and what was recorded above, both in the same city.

In fact, it was in all likelihood much better, in terms of singing.

There was a fantastic school of singing in Russia, that started with the visit and teachings of the best Italian singers of the late 19th century, notably Mattia Battistini, and the work of the two big Opera theaters (Mariinsky in San Petersburg and Bolshoi in Moscow), that bore fruit, a really wonderful fruit, since the early 20th century, with the great tenors of Imperial Russia. This golden age extended until well into the 1950s.

Schigolch
February 2nd, 2012, 02:39 PM
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Conductor - Boris Khiakin, Moscow 1956

Onegin - Eugene Belov
Lensky - Sergei Lemeshev
Tatyana - Galina Vishnevskaya
Olga - Larissa Avdeyeva
Larina - Valentina Petrova
Filipyevna - Eugenia Verbitskaya
Gremin - Ivan Petrov
Triquet - Andrei Sokolov


A dream take, one of those that really are at the top of operatic recordings. The sound is good enough, and Khiakin is handling his singers very well, though not delivering all the orchestral subtleties. Eugene Belov sings a beautiful Onegin. Yes, perhaps a little bit too beautiful, we are missing something of the dark side of the character here, but this is superb singing. Vishnevskaya, with her luminous voice and her fresh timbre is the perfect portrait of the young and dreamy Tatyana, and she also moves with the character to become a noble and all-for-duty lady in the last Act. Avdeyeva is arguably the best Olga ever, and Petrov is rock solid as Gremin. What can we say about Lemeshev? Twenty years after his first recorded Onegin, close to sixty years old, after losing one lung and having some problems with alcohol, he still has that voice, and can transmit that emotion with his singing.

Overall: A+


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6aMLfkImX4

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
February 3rd, 2012, 03:14 AM
A non-Russian recordings:

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Conductor, James Levine, Dresden 1989
Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle
Chorus, Leipzig Radio Chorus

Onegin - Thomas Allen
Tatyana - Mirella Freni
Lensky - Neil Schicoff
Olga - Anne Sophie von Otter
Gremin - Paata Burchuladze

Jimmy Levine here is maybe a little overenthusiastic and his conducting is a bit flashy, lacking the solemn overtones that Onegin sometimes requires in the more melancholic parts. But it is certainly exciting. Allen does an excellent job, and it is curious to see an Italianate soprano like Freni doing Tatyana; she clearly brings some energy to the role, and is able to show both youth (in spite of her age at this time) in the first act and maturity in the third. While I'm not the greatest of Schicoff's fans, I do recognize that sometimes he can be very effective, and here, he is. Burchuladze is a very fine Gremin.

What makes or breaks this recording is - do we want our Eugene Onegin to be ponderous, or do we want it lively? I'd be for the former so this is not my preferred recording, but then, it's a welcome variation.

Overall: C

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
February 3rd, 2012, 03:37 AM
And then there's this one, a hybrid, half Russian, half Western:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TPXRDRHSL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
Conductor, Semyon Bychkov, 1990
Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris
Chorus, St. Petersburg Chamber Chorus

Onegin - Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Tatyana - Nuccia Focile
Lensky - Neil Schicoff
Olga - Olga Borodina
Gremin - Alexander Anisimov

This one is OK, folks. Hvorostovsky sings a decent Onegin, and Focile, like Freni, impacts some gentle Italianate interpretation on the young girl. Schicoff repeats the good job I've commented upon upstairs, and the conducting, unlike Levine's exhuberance, is restrained, thoughtful, and sad. Sound quality is very good. I like this one better than the previous one.

Overall: B

Schigolch
February 3rd, 2012, 03:49 PM
http://p.alejka.pl/i2/p_new/22/31/georg-solti-tschaikovsky-eugene-onegin_0_b.jpg


Conductor - Georg Solti, London 1975

Onegin - Bernd Weikl
Lensky - Stuart Burrows
Tatyana - Teresa Kubiak
Olga - Julia Hamari
Larina - Anna Reynolds
Filipyevna - Enid Hartle
Gremin - Nicolai Ghiaurov
Triquet - Michel Sénéchal


This was the first version in Russian, with non native singers. Mr. Solti gets a superb sound out of the Royal Opera House orchestra, but all the performance is rather cold, not very Romantic. Kubiak was an intelligent soprano, but she is lacking the vocal means to give the role its full due. Weikl is too detached, more an English than a Russian character, while Stuart Burrows just sing the notes. Ghiaurov is always himself, perhaps the best thing in this recording, with the very funny Sénéchal. The other females roles are not really well served.

Overall: C


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3AvzmcGuJQ

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
March 28th, 2012, 12:55 AM
Cherevichki, Opera in four acts - premiered on 31 January 1887, at the Bolshoy in Moscow. Sung in Russian.
Music by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Yakov Polonsky, Nikolay Chayev, and Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, after Nikolay Gogol's short story Christmans Eve

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51pbPvPDvvL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Conductor Alexander Polianichko, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera Chorus
Dancers of The Royal Ballet

Director Francesca Zambello
Set Designs Mikhail Mokrov
Costumes Tatiana Noginova
Choreography Alastair Marriott

Cast

Oxana - Olga Guryakova
Vakula - Vsevolod Grivnov
Solokha - Larissa Diadkova
Chub - Vladimir Matorin
The Devil - Maxim Mikhailov
The Schoolmaster - viacheslav Voynarovsky
Pan Golova - Alexander Vassiliev
Panas - John Upperton
His Highness - Sergei Leiferkus
Master of Ceremonies - Jeremy White
Odarka - Olga Sabadoch
Wood Goblin - Changhan Lim
Echo - Andrew Mcnair

Principal Dancers - Mara Galeazzi, Gary Avis

Live Composite recording at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, on 23 and 28 November 2009
Film Director Jonathan Haswell

Co-production BBC/Royal Opera House
Released on DVD and blu-ray by Opus Arte, 2010

1080i HD Blu-ray, 16:9, LPCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 - Sound and image, perfect
Running time 155 minutes. Optional subtitles in English, French, German, and Spanish
Liner Notes - Essay and Synopsis in English, French, and German. Chapter list with number names in Russian and English translation; times; but no character names. Production photos in color.

Extra features:
Introduction
Cast and Characters
Staging Gogol's World
Cast gallery

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This opera was Tchaikovsky's favorite. The title has been translated in various ways, through revisions by the composer himself and production team's preference. The earlier version was called Vakula the Smith; then The Caprices of Oxana, and later Cherevichki, which has been translated as The Fancy Slippers, but was re-interpreted by the Royal Opera House as The Tsarina's Slippers.

The first version Vakula the Smith (1876) was a failure, and Tchaikovsky was heartbroken. He reworked it extensively, and re-premiered it in 1887, conducted by himself. He kept tweaking it later.

From the liner notes and extras we learn that this staging had as concept: the attempt to be faithful the Gogol's naive folk style in this particular short story, with a mix of fantasy and reality - it's Gogol the fantasy weaver, not Gogol the sarcastic and ironic of his major works. Great pains were taken for authenticity, including getting genuine Ukranian boots and accurate folk costumes, as well as carefully choreographic Cossack dancing. The sets reproduce naive Ukranian paintings (see cover picture for an example). It's a comic work with lots of surrealism and absurdism.

----------

Very beautiful overture. Set designs are very cute, props are peculiar, costumes are colorful and interesting. Stage dynamics are very good, with well choreographed motion.

The first two numbers are delightful - a flirtatious and witty dialogue between Solokha the witch and her love interest, none other than the Devil himself (in a hilarious costume). It's all lively and with nice rhythm and pace. They are good actors and more than correct singers, especially Ms. Larissa Diadkova.

What follows is a long arioso used by the Devil to tell various elements of the story and all his plans to take revenge on the village's blacksmith Vikula, who painted a mocking picture of him on the wall of the church.

Several succesful staging effects ensue, with the sets changing in various ways using a variety of naive paintings and devices that make me remember of some baroque sets used by Les Arts Florissants for Rameau's operas. All very gorgeous and nice!

This is the kind of production one watches with a permanent smile on one's face. I think I'm in for a treat.

The orchestra is lush and vibrant. The music is beautiful and very well planned to match and illustrate the action. So far, I don't understand why this opera and this production don't usually get very high marks among fans. We'll see, but so far so good.

----

OK, first negative element - leading soprano Ms. Olga Guryakova's looks, while not offensive, are a far cry from the standard of beauty we've grown accustomed to, in the matter of Russian sopranos. Her singing is defective here, clearly. She seems to have a light voice and she appears overwhelmed by the orchestra, feels compelled to push too hard, and the result is a top that is quite muddled and shrill. Her timbre is not that beautiful either. Hey, Royal Opera House, you have heard of a nice soprano called Anna Netrebko, haven't you?

Anyway, Ms. Guryakova's acting is not bad, and one thinks that she'd be doing better in a lighter repertory - the vocal writing for Oxana seems very difficult.

Her mate Vsevolod Grivnov in the role of Vakula fares a little better, but not much better. Same problem, he needs to yell on top of the orchestra to be heard. The timbre is more beautiful, his sound is more pleasant. But I wonder if he'll survive the four acts, having to force himself like this.

Chub, Oxana's father, is sung by a good traditional Russian bass in the person of Vladimir Matorin, no complaints there.

OK, this spells trouble - in the duet at the end of act 1, Mr. Grivnov is already failing. His voice is not as strong as at the beginning of the scene. He seems really outmatched here - again, might be more suited for Belcanto. Oxana ends the act, not doing so well. Applause is very subdued. Apparently the Covent Garden patrons know what they're getting and are not very thrilled with the singing, and they shouldn't be.

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Act II opens well, since it recovers the two best singers/actors so far, the witch and the Devil. They engage in more funny dialogue and lively dancing. These two are really stealing the show.

The mayor Pan Golova comes in. Another deficient singer. He's a bass with problems in the bottom of his range. Next is the Schoolmaster, a tenor. Not bad, he's got a sort of funny voice. One wouldn't want to hear him in Italianate lyric opera (the voice is kind of rough and unpolished), but here in this comic role he's doing well, the rustic voice adds to the comic effect.

Then Chub comes in and it is nice to see two good singers interacting here. The scene is theatrically good and very funny. The next number sees Vakula doing better again, while he hauls the four sacs. He has used well the break between this one and his previous aria, to rest his voice.

Big chorus number is next, full of color and beautiful costumes and props. Second act ends well, with good comedic effect. The music seems to have faltered a bit and is less compelling than earlier in the opera.

So far, B+ or B. I need a break.

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Act 3 opens with one of the things Tchaikovsky does best: a ballet. The sets are terrific, very beautiful. Water nymphs, Wood Goblin - the former, dancers from the Royal Ballet (nice), and the Goblin is a good singer. The public applauds more strongly for the first time.

Vakula murders his next aria, with poor pitch control. One wonders why the ROH invested so much in this beautiful production, but hired such an uneven cast. Are these people touring from the Bolshoi? If yes, they sent their second stringers to London.

His Highness - beautiful voice but too wide a vibrato, which gets slow and unpleasant.

Props in this scene are very nice, golden pieces recreating the St. Petersburg palace.

Then we get a classical Russian dance and Cossack dance, all performed by the Royal Ballet, with sort of mixed results, it's a bit anemic.

Again, beautiful sets opening act IV, and we get excellent singer Diadkova again, with not-as-good Guryakova, in a nice duet. From this point on it's all joy, with nice uplifting chorus with colorful sets. Oxana and Vikula get married, all ends well. Curtain.

Technical quality, packaging = 10
Staging (dynamics, concept, sets, costumes) = 10
Orchestra, conducting = 9 (mostly excellent, but a bit slow in some passages)
Singing = 6 (very uneven)
Acting, dance numbers, choreography = 7
The opera itself = 8 (well, this is entertaining and nice but it is not Eugene Onegin or Pique Dame, folks - the music has some high points, but is kind of mundane at other points; and theatrically speaking, it's funny enough but some parts drag on for too long).

Nice final touch - the orchestra keeps playing through the curtain calls.

Average, 8.3 out of 10, or in other words, B

Is it recommended? It's entertaining, but optional. Could have been a lot better with better singers. Recommended for those with disposable income, but definitely not essential.

Available from Amazon.com [here (http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Cherevichki-Tsarinas-Slippers-Blu-ray/dp/B0041UG68A/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1332895246&sr=1-2)] for $26.68, a reasonable price for the entertainment provided.

HarpsichordConcerto
March 28th, 2012, 10:02 AM
Thanks, Alma. Nice read. I have a copy too - still wrapped in clear plastic!

Dark_Angel
June 8th, 2013, 01:33 AM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iQQobodhL._SY300_.jpg

A new Eugene Onegin with rising star Kristine Opolais, this is a visually dazzling fancyful production that succeeds on many levels well worth owning yet ultimately does not surpass the famous MET Renee Fleming version overall

Let me say up front EO is not one of my favorite operas, it does have the two hugely popular dance themes, act 2 waltz and act 3 polonaise that everyone know and loves but the unfullfilled love story never made much sense to me and the singing I find much less inspired than the musics two famous dance themes

Visually this is big success with some clever effects and dazzling scenes, especially during dance scenes. The Act 3 polonaise dance scene taking place later in Tatyanas life after she has married another man is a real visual feast with a parade of strange strange colorful characters from Rocky Horror picture show casting and Opolais gliding across the floor in stylized rigid pose wearing hot pink gown and cigarette holder.....very iconic figure and now for Onegin ironically the unattainable object of desire

For most of this production Tatyana is distant and detached almost in a daze, sometimes even moving in slow motion, only during final rejection of Onegin did some real passion and emotional fire emerge. Contrast this to famous Fleming version where Tatyana is much more human and emotional like you would expect a normal woman to react......

I must mention the bizarre bald man ghost character in all white that appears in many scenes, I can figure no logical reason why he is present in the opera. Has no spoken words or singing, just gets kinda annoying standing around acting important sometimes even directing events. Then this arrogant ghost gets a top position in curtain call taking long bow like he really did something important lapping up the applause........NOT!

Soave_Fanciulla
June 8th, 2013, 01:45 AM
I must mention the bizarre bald man ghost character in all white that appears in many scences, I can figure no logical reason why he is present in the opera. Has no spoken words or singing, just gets kinda annoying standing around acting important sometimes even directing events. Then this arrogant ghost gets a top position in curtain call taking long bow like he really did something important lapping up the applause........NOT!


He is Onegin grown old, looking back in regret. I thought he was great.

Dark_Angel
June 8th, 2013, 01:54 AM
He is Onegin grown old, looking back in regret. I thought he was great.

Aha.......I should have known by that white cane the ghost had like the live Onegin, ghost should have slapped some sense into Onegin when he first met lovely young Tatyana. :sarcastic:

Did you notice at begining of act three after Lensky was shot in duel he makes brief appearance also as white ghost and is given a white long coat to wear then quickly dissappears, hmmmmm

Dark_Angel
June 8th, 2013, 01:55 AM
next

Soave_Fanciulla
June 8th, 2013, 04:46 AM
Aha.......I should have known by that white cane the ghost had like the live Onegin, ghost should have slapped some sense into Onegin when he first met lovely young Tatyana. :sarcastic:

That's the whole point, isn't it, that we look back and think..if only!

Amfortas
June 8th, 2013, 09:29 AM
Well, I've got the DVD on order, so if I don't like it, I'll do some looking back and thinking "if only" myself!

Actually, just in case it disappoints, I also ordered this classic old Bolshoi Opera film version, a favorite of mine, along with it:

http://www.silverdisc.com/images/00/032031128590.jpg


I find it impossible to think of any other filmed opera so well done.

tyroneslothrop
June 8th, 2013, 10:42 PM
... but the unfullfilled love story never made much sense to me ...

Pushkin's EO is a very, very Russian poem. Having lived in Russia for 7 years and been married to a Russian devushka for 15, I realize that EO is simply a metaphor for how Russians view the world. Consider Russian literature. Who do we know in the West that actually behaves like any of the great Russian literary protagonists? :confused: Certainly, I understand EO a lot better now then I did 18 years ago when I saw it for the first time on a VHS tape with the '91 Kirov production that I borrowed from the public library. Perhaps I should start an off-topic Russian thread! :p

ADDED: I just went and googled for Russkaya dusha ('Russian soul') and found a wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_soul)! Of course! haha ;)

Dark_Angel
June 9th, 2013, 12:48 AM
Pushkin's EO is a very, very Russian poem. Having lived in Russia for 7 years and been married to a Russian devushka for 15, I realize that EO is simply a metaphor for how Russians view the world. Consider Russian literature. Who do we know in the West that actually behaves like any of the great Russian literary protagonists? :confused: Certainly, I understand EO a lot better now then I did 18 years ago when I saw it for the first time on a VHS tape with the '91 Kirov production that I borrowed from the public library. Perhaps I should start an off-topic Russian thread! :p

ADDED: I just went and googled for Russkaya dusha ('Russian soul') and found a wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_soul)! Of course! haha ;)

Suffering in the motherland is a noble trait it seems........

We really can't feel sorry for Onegin however since he was an arrogant *** that killed his best friend Lensky in duel over trying to score his girlfriend Olga

Amfortas
June 9th, 2013, 10:55 AM
We really can't feel sorry for Onegin however since he was an arrogant *** that killed his best friend Lensky in duel over trying to score his girlfriend Olga

My sympathies go more toward Tatyana--rejected by the man she loves, then years later pursued by him when she is no longer available.

As the Russians are fond of saying, "life sucks."

Soave_Fanciulla
June 9th, 2013, 09:48 PM
As the Russians are fond of saying, "life sucks."

Isn't THAT the Russian soul:biggrin:?

tyroneslothrop
June 11th, 2013, 04:01 AM
Isn't THAT the Russian soul:biggrin:?

Now Soave_Fanciulla, have you been watching Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina again? ;)

(Those of you who are less familiar with all things Russian and are wondering why life sucks, read this short story which fully captures "suck" in a few short pages! Gogol's The Overcoat (http://www.classicreader.com/book/2026/1/))

Amfortas
July 7th, 2013, 08:28 PM
I want to give a belated, public thanks to Dark_Angel and Soave_Fanciulla for turning me on to this:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iQQobodhL._SY300_.jpg

This Valencia Palau de les Arts Eugene Onegin, staged by Polish theatre and film director Mariusz Trelinski, and featuring Kristine Opolais and Artur Rucinski, is definitely not a traditional, naturalistic staging, nor even a sparse, abstracted evocation of such a world like Robert Carsen's Met production. It's an inventive, unabashedly stylized, and highly theatrical take on the opera, delivering a powerful punch. The performance features a young, attractive, lively cast, and the orchestra under the baton of conductor Omer Meir Wellber is similarly impassioned.

Trelinski conceives the opera as a memory piece, about looking back in time with regret at foolish choices and lost opportunities--a kind of "Remembrance of Things Past" approach. The production is marked by the presence of an older, more worldly wise Onegin, referred to in the credits simply as "O . . ." As the quiet prelude plays, the bald, haggard old man walks slowly across the ringed forestage in front of the orchestra, leaning heavily on his cane. Stooping to pick up an apple, he is transported back to the memory of a tree in the garden where he once rejected the love of his life, Tatyana. The story proceeds from there.

This old man remains a hovering, ghostlike presence who appears at various points throughout the proceedings. It's interesting that while the young Onegin is garbed in black, his older self dresses all in white--just like the young Lensky. It's as if the director has taken his cue from Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" essay, the idea that the melancholic incapable of going through the normal stages of mourning--often because of an overriding sense of guilt--identifies with the lost object and incorporates it into his own ego. In later life, the once callow and unfeeling Onegin has become pining, lovelorn, and filled with regret--in effect taking on the sensitive, poetic identity of the friend he killed.

As Tatyana, Kristine Opolais displays both her cool blonde beauty and her formidable vocal artistry. As in her other roles, she is not content to rely on her looks, but gives a powerful, committed performance. Much of the time she is indeed, as pointed out earlier in this thread, surprisingly cold and detached--not just a pining young school girl, but almost a case of clinical depression. But her moments of passionate outburst become all the more compelling in contrast. The stylized blocking and stark lighting all help convey the sense of a Tatyana caught up in some nightmarish existential crisis. This impression culminates in her great letter scene, where she performs a kind of tormented, ghostly pas de deux with the old man Onegin.

This scene, and the production as a whole, raises anew the question that always besets this opera: whose story is it? Because Onegin is the titular character, some productions, like Trelinski's, Robert Carsen's, and Stefan Herheim's, opt to center the concept on his memories. But Tchaikovsky reserved his most tender sympathy and impassioned music for Tatyana, making hers seem the central point of view and the true, beating heart of the piece. Presenting her letter scene this way, with the oppressive presence of the old Onegin, introduces an unsettling tension. Is Tatyana's suffering, then, merely a distorted, ego-inflated fantasy of Onegin's? Or, in her youthful anguish, is Tatyana foreseeing what lies ahead and somehow reaching across the decades to the man who can never be hers? The staging raises more questions than it answers, but in a provocative, gripping way.

As the younger Onegin, Rucinski sings magnificently, though he doesn't cut the devastatingly handsome figure of a Hvorostovsky. But with his darkly lined eyes and small, narrow moustache, he projects a kind of insidious, rodent-like charm that makes the inherent unpleasantness of the character, and his ultimate self-loathing, all the more tangible.

The other main characters are similarly effective. Lena Belkina is an attractive, fresh voiced Olga. As Lensky, Dmitri Korchak projects the right youthful impetuousness, and sings the great aria before his fatal duel with touching sincerity. The duel itself is handled with stark, restrained beauty under falling snow. After it is over and Lensky lies dead, Onegin simply walks away into the distance, while his older self, kneeling on the forestage, grimaces in agony as he raises his arms to the heavens.

As opposed to the austere poetry of the more intimate moments, the big crowd scenes explode in garish costumes, lurid colors, and stylized choreography. The Act II party gathering includes dancers in animal masks, aptly suggesting the predatory nature of society. The Act III ballroom set is dominated by a staircase backed by a huge downward-pointing red arrow (an almost too blatant indication, perhaps, of Onegin's sad trajectory?). As the dance music plays, the old man directs a long line of women parading in ghoulishly distorted ballroom attire, perhaps representing the endless series of partners he has gone through in a futile effort to assuage his loneliness and guilt.

Tatyana appears here in a long, svelte, hot pink dress, arms raised stiffly to either side, befitting her constrained new role in society. During Gremin's area, Onegin and Tatyana slowly dance under a swirling light, their spirits reaching out in a way forbidden to them by the real world. Later, the great final scene ends with Tatyana leaving Onegin alone on the forestage, while in the background a half dozen men in suits and top hats use their crossed canes to lift up the old man in a kind of crucifixion, then throw him to the floor in a lifeless heap. All along, it seems, we have been watching Onegin's final, remorseful moments.

If you love Eugene Onegin, and are open to freewheeling Regie productions done with style, intelligence, and sheer beauty, I highly recommend this DVD.

Dark_Angel
July 7th, 2013, 11:00 PM
Yes overall very sucessful, the regie variations and exciting visuals are in sympathy with the basic storyline thus a worthy release and perfect compliment to the famous traditional Fleming version......

I am still puzzled why the white ghost Onegin got such prominent applause during curtain call, he had no spoken or sung lines, I guess it took real skill to profoundly pick up an apple and stare at it, wave around your walking cane etc :sarcastic:

Amfortas
July 8th, 2013, 12:25 AM
Yes overall very sucessful, the regie variations and exciting visuals are in sympathy with the basic storyline thus a worthy release and perfect compliment to the famous traditional Fleming version......

I am still puzzled why the white ghost Onegin got such prominent applause during curtain call, he had no spoken or sung lines, I guess it took real skill to profoundly pick up an apple and stare at it, wave around your walking cane etc :sarcastic:

I suppose they were acknowledging the importance of the character within this particular directorial concept, rather than any virtuoso contribution from the performer. I agree the applause was a little odd, but adding such an omnipresent, silent figure in the first place was a bit unusual. :)

tyroneslothrop
July 8th, 2013, 12:44 AM
I suppose they were acknowledging the importance of the character within this particular directorial concept, rather than any virtuoso contribution from the performer. I agree the applause was a little odd, but adding such an omnipresent, silent figure in the first place was a bit unusual. :)

The ROH E.O. also had omnipresent silent figures (although they danced). The difference is that in Valencia production, the silent figure is the older world-wise Onegin, but in the ROH, the silent figures were the younger characters while the older versions of the characters are singing. There is a similar dreamlike feel even though it seems to be the inverse of the Valencia production.

Amfortas
July 8th, 2013, 01:47 AM
The ROH E.O. also had omnipresent silent figures (although they danced). The difference is that in Valencia production, the silent figure is the older world-wise Onegin, but in the ROH, the silent figures were the younger characters while the older versions of the characters are singing. There is a similar dreamlike feel even though it seems to be the inverse of the Valencia production.

Stefan Herheim did something similar in his Amsterdam production, when at times a young dancer doubled for Tatyana--sung, as at the ROH, by Krassimira Stoyanova.

Poor Krassimira . . . it's as if directors are trying to tell her something. :(

Soave_Fanciulla
July 8th, 2013, 02:02 AM
I think this flashback concept worked best in the Valencia production. The O figure didn't really interfere with the story - just a reminder that we often regret our youthful follies.

tyroneslothrop
July 8th, 2013, 02:16 AM
Stefan Herheim did something similar in his Amsterdam production, when at times a young dancer doubled for Tatyana--sung, as at the ROH, by Krassimira Stoyanova.

Poor Krassimira . . . it's as if directors are trying to tell her something. :(

Could it be that this has something to do with being 4x Tatyana's age (http://operalively.com/forums/showthread.php/487-Eugene-Onegin-Around-the-Opera?p=29585&viewfull=1#post29585)? Nah... :laugh4:

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
July 8th, 2013, 02:21 AM
I want to give a belated, public thanks to Dark_Angel and Soave_Fanciulla for turning me on to this:


And I want to thank you for a truly excellent review, Amfortas! This seems like the kind of Regie that I do like - intelligent, tasteful, with a concept that enhances the telling of the opera's true story rather than deviating wildly from it. And of course, having the beautiful Ms. Opolais in this production makes it even more appealing. I'd buy it if I didn't have such a big unwatched pile now... Maybe later.

Amfortas
July 8th, 2013, 02:28 AM
I'd buy it if I didn't have such a big unwatched pile now... Maybe latter.

Definitely keep it on your shopping list!

Dark_Angel
August 17th, 2014, 05:43 PM
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MsgL1EtyL._AA200_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Eugene-Blu-ray-Anna-Netrebko/dp/B00H540KMM/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1408296651&sr=1-1&keywords=eugene+onegin)

Watched the newest Met EO release and overall was not too impressed, only hardcore Netrebko fans need to own this.......

The cast is very strong singing and acting, but let down by a lackluster production with little visual excitement or dramatic impact in either the sets or costumes, everything very predictable and by the book (did Gelb really sign off on this?), there are a couple better alternatives out there for video version. I am surprised by all the rave reviews on Amazon USA and wonder if we watched the same performance?

For a standard straight version I prefer the older Met EO with Fleming, and for a fantasy hybrid version the excellent Opalais is much more visually exciting and memorable........

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41W-5fitUpL._AA200_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Fleming-Hvorostovsky-Gergiev-Metropolitan/dp/B000YCLRBA/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1408296651&sr=1-2&keywords=eugene+onegin) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iQQobodhL._AA200_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/Eugene-Onegin-Krist-ne-Opolais/dp/B00BQH9ZXO/ref=sr_1_8?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1408296651&sr=1-8&keywords=eugene+onegin)

Amfortas
August 17th, 2014, 06:03 PM
I had a more positive reaction to this DVD. For me, the updated period lent the piece a kind of Chekhovian intimacy, and if the sets were not hugely memorable, the singing and acting were indeed strong, the latter enhanced by some telling directorial touches contributed by Deborah Warner (the repeated "kiss" motif was especially effective).

I own both of the other productions you mentioned and definitely agree about their merits. But I'm happy to have this one in my collection as well.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
August 18th, 2014, 05:16 AM
I had a more positive reaction to this DVD. For me, the updated period lent the piece a kind of Chekhovian intimacy, and if the sets were not hugely memorable, the singing and acting were indeed strong, the latter enhanced by some telling directorial touches contributed by Deborah Warner (the repeated "kiss" motif was especially effective).

I own both of the other productions you mentioned and definitely agree about their merits. But I'm happy to have this one in my collection as well.

One thing I wonder, is why Peter Gelb needed to update the previous EO production so soon (the blu-ray with Fleming and Hvorostovsky). That one was pretty beautiful, in my opinion. It had many strong points - sleek, tasteful, with nice colors and some amazing touches like the fall foliage. This said, and surprisingly since Anna is in the new one, I haven't seen the new one yet.

The Met has plenty of productions that needed updating, and that EO was already modern enough, and relatively recent, so why mess with it? I find it very visually appealing and it is one of my favorite blu-ray discs.

Amfortas
August 18th, 2014, 06:47 AM
I had the same question, Alma. Perhaps they really wanted to feature Netrebko as Tatiana, but knew they couldn't market a second DVD of the same stage production?

In any case, you of all people should check out the new Met DVD. I suspect you'll find enough to like, centered on Anna and her fellow performers, to overlook some of the shortcomings.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
November 29th, 2015, 04:36 PM
Finally I got this blu-ray out of its plastic wrap and watched it, as advised above.

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Eugene Onegin on blu-ray disc
Lyric scenes in three acts, premiered in Moscow, 1879
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, chorus master Donald Palumbo
The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, choreography by Kim Brandstrup

Production by Deborah Warner
Directed by Fiona Shaw
Sets by Tom Pye
Costumes by Chloe Obolensky
Lighting by Jean Kalman
Video by Ian William Galloway and Finn Ross

Tatiana - Anna Netrebko
Eugene Onegin - Mariusz Kwiecen
Lenski - Piotr Beczala
Olga - Oksana Volkova
Madame Larina - Elena Zaremba
Filippyevna - Larissa Diadkova
Prince Gremin - Alexei Tanovitski
Triquet - John Graham-Hall
A captain - David Crawford
Zaretski - Richard Bernstein

A Deutsche Grammophon / The Metropolitan Opera product released on March 11, 2014
Recorded live from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, on October 5, 2013
Picture 1081i HD 16:9, All regions
Sound - PCM Stereo, or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean (no Russian!)
Run time: Opera 164 minutes + 11 minutes of extras
Available on Amazon for $27.35 [clicky (http://www.amazon.com/Tchaikovsky-Eugene-Blu-ray-Anna-Netrebko/dp/B00H540KMM/)]

Extras (English only): host Debora Voigt interviewing Anna Netrebko, Mariusz Kwiecien, Piotr Beczala, Valery Gergiev, and Donald Palumbo

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We are in the presence of a quasi-impeccable musical performance in all of its elements. From this product we get out-of-this-world singing by a mostly Slavic ensemble of principals and comprimarios who are almost all perfect in their voices, supplemented by the phenomenal Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by arguably the currently most seasoned specialist in this repertory, Maestro Gergiev. It doesn't get much better than that.

Valery Gergiev is restrained, solemn, and precise in his reading of this beautifully romantic score. The orchestra responds to him with perfect dynamics and seamless transitions, as well as with its trademark resonance. Synchrony with the stage is right to the minimum detail. The Metropolitan Opera Chorus is flawless as usual. A++ for the orchestra, conductor, and chorus.

Anna Netrebko delivers in my opinion one of her best performances in all of her illustrious career. I'd say, top three, together with her poignant Lucia di Lammermoor and her fiery Lady Macbeth. Her letter scene is a thing of beauty with phenomenal acting and touching singing. She demonstrates perfect control of this very long sing, with no fatigue or lost pace - and oh so beautiful timbre. A++

Mariusz Kwiecen also displays excellent acting in his facial expressions and his singing is elegant and correct in all regards, except that he is a bit underwhelming in the vocal passion department (although this might be deliberate given the character's coldness in the first two acts, but even the last scene still gives me a bit of the same impression that the dramatic acting - largely successful - is a bit less matched by the dramatic singing). A+

Piotr Beczala, like Anna, gives one of his best showings, with a sublime and delicate "Kuda, kuda" and unlike his colder colleague, his passion says present. A++

The trio of other important female roles, Oksana Volkova, Elena Zaremba, and Larissa Diadkova are very good, especially the latter, who is an extremely solid Filippyevna, with a surprisingly powerful and well modulated voice for her age. Respectively, A+, A, and A++.

I was much less impressed with Richard Bernstein and John Graham-Hall, who earn respectively a B+ and a B. Unsurprisingly, they are the non-Slavic cast members (I guess being Slavic does make a difference, for this repertory).

The choreography is correct but nothing to write home about. B+.

Lighting is very beautiful with some nice touches like the sunlight in the morning after the Letter Scene, and the bluish snow in the last scene. A+

Stage direction is good for this concept (or lack thereof) - that is, there is nothing very original or especially compelling but some nice touches here and there do demonstrate secure direction, and the blocking is well done. A-

Sets and costumes are a letdown as compared to the Met's previous and prematurely retired production of Eugene Onegin. Everything is well-done and realistic (the time was pushed up about a century) but frankly, it is all very conventional and predictable. The wintry backdrops are more successful, but everything else does not prime for imagination. I'd have loved to see this same cast singing in the previous production with its sleek visual impact (I miss that beautiful fall foliage).

Technically speaking regarding how this blu-ray disc is put together, the Met continues to misunderstand the fact that while watching an opera on video, we don't necessarily want interruptions by the hostess between acts, which disturbs the flow and the immersion. Fortunately the interviews unlike during the live HD broadcast are pushed to the extras, but we still get Debora Voigt introducing each act, which is utterly unnecessary. One regrets the fact that no Russian subtitles are given, which I consider to be a major problem. Even though I don't speak Russian, I like to re-watch an opera with original language subtitles just to better appreciate the phonemes and look at enunciation and diction. Sound and image are perfect and video direction is very good, but the above peccadilloes bring the rating down to a B+.

The insert contains a decent 2-page essay that does explain the director's updating of the action to the late 19th century, a synopsis, track list with names of the arias, time, and characters, and many black-and-white production pictures, one of them in color featuring Anna in her ball gown. A.

In summary, we get an A++ musical performance, and a B+ physical production, printed into a mostly technically well-done blu-ray disc, with a couple of flaws. Overall, A-; highly recommended for the musical aspects (and indispensable for Anna's fans), but not especially successful as a production.

Florestan
September 12th, 2017, 02:16 AM
Seems they filmed Iolanta staring Anna Netrebko back in 2009 but I am not finding how to get a copy. Assume they would be selling it?

Here is the link to the information (http://www.telmondis.fr/_temp_public/jr5uqimtqgce6fqifogs7hlqb7/Telmondis_Iolanta_web.pdf).

And another link with a different display (http://www.telmondis.fr/distribution/opera/236__Iolanta-2009.htm#none).

http://www.telmondis.fr/_cache_img/4__872.jpg

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 30th, 2017, 04:32 PM
Eugene Onegin on DVD

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Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

The Bolshoi Orchestra conducted by Alexander Verdenikov
The Bolshoi Chorus, chorus master Valery Borisov

In tour, filmed live at the Opéra National de Paris, Palais Garnier, in September 2008

Directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov
Sets by Dmitri Tcherniakov
Costumes by Maria Danilova
Lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky
Video direction by Chloé Perlemuter

Cast (most, Bolshoi soloists)

Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova
Eugene Onegin - Mariusz Kwiecien
Lenski - Andrey Dunaev
Olga - Margarita Mansirova
Madame Larina - Makvala Kasrashvilli
Filipyevna - Emma Sarkisyan
Prince Gremin - Anatolij Kotscherga
Triquet - not credited - in this production, a silent role; his music is sung by Andrey Dunaev, with Russian rather than French lyrics
A captain - not credited
Zaretski - Valery Gilmanov

DVD released by BelAir Classiques and the Bolshoi Theater, duration 150 minutes (opera) and 26 minutes (bonus, a documentary of the Bolshoi tour at Palais Garnier), Audio PCM stereo, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1. 2 DVD 9 NTSC 16:9. Region zero (all). Subtitles in French, English, German, Spanish, and Italian. Booklet with credits, track list with characters and duration, 9 color production pictures, synopsis, and a 3-page essay by the stage director Dmitri Tcherniakov, repeated in French, English, and German.

--------------

This starts well. Tatiana, our Tatiana (hehe) is an extremely beautiful and classy-looking blonde Russian woman (and Olga is appropriately a bit less attractive brunette). They have the physique du rôle; I hope they sing well. I look forward to Dmitri Tcherniakov's staging, always interesting; what a great director! (Alas, the image on the DVD is not great, quite granular).

The set is made of a single room in an old mansion, for all acts. According to Tcherniakov in his essay, he did it like this to emphacize Tatiana's inner life in a claustrophobic environment that doesn't suffer much influence from the exterior, from the environment, from society, but is rather a psychological space. The director also engaged in a more biting criticism of society, which is in tune with the original novel by Pushkin, unlike Tchaikovsky's opera that focused more on the romanticism. Costumes are at some indefinite period, maybe around the first half of the twentieth century. There is a long table with several people around it.

The initial dialogue between Larina and Filipyevna is handled in a merry and lively way instead of the longing and sorrow we see in other productions. Our Filipyevna however is a really old lady whose voice is so shot that we can barely hear her. Tcherniakov said in his essay that the Bolshoi often keeps these old singers, former Tatianas and Olgas, to later be the Larinas and Filipyevnas.

Instead of peasants coming in, the people around the table sing the peasants' chorus. Wow! The Bolshoi chorus is excellent! Their song throws Larina into a fit of laughter. This was integrated into the scene in a better way than what is typically done in the traditional stagings, when the peasants' chorus appears to have little to do with the rest of the piece. Here, it becomes a drinking song around the table, and it works.

Olga sings her first aria, and while she has a beautiful dark color to her voice, it is not very well projected, seems small (one can never tell just from a DVD, could be the capture, but it does seem to be in lower volume than the other singer's). Tatiana on the other hand seems fine. Larina sings well too, and Tcherniakov gives her a hysterical twist, either laughing or sobbing dramatically, and she appears to have a rather dysfunctional relationship with her daughters.

Excellent tenor manning the role of Lensky! And of course we know how good Mariusz is.

Very effective first scene, and the English subtitles are better than in most DVDs, with more complete and more literary translation of the Russian text.

The second scene, the letter scene, is again in the same room; just, all guests are gone and there is only Tatiana sitting on the table, and her nanny walking around. Tatiana looks very catatonic.

What follows is a remarkable letter scene, the best one I've seen to date. It is acted as Tatiana daydreaming and having visions, and both the acting and the singing are extremely convincing, and Tcherniakov's idea of blowing the fuses with the lights going off at the end add a ghostly touch that is goosebumping. Bravo! The Parisian public couldn't stop applauding! The continuation, when Filipyevna comes in, is just as well acted. Also, Gleb Filshtinsky uses lighting very efficiently to convey the passing of the hours of the day and Tatiana's anguished wait. All very well done,. We see Tatiana smiling for the fist time, and oh my God, this artist looks gorgeous! She is so very pretty, and sings well too!

The tense dialogue between Tatiana and Onegin is well done too, and we got to her birthday ball where again she appears catatonic and like a deer on the headlights. There is no French song by Triquet, but rather, Lensky takes that scene from him and sings it in Russian. Acting remains superb. Lensky's poetry folder gets tossed around during the cottillon dance, he gets cake on his face, and people laugh at him, setting his mood even lower which enhances the impact of the scene and makes what will happen next more believable. Good touch, Tcherniakov!

During Lensky's tantrum people laugh more at him, and when Larina tells him "not in my house" she slaps him. Tatiana is the only one who comforts him at the end of the scene. End of Act II scene one. Very, very well done! Great acting, blocking, and singing!

During the "Kuka, Kuda" aria which was interpreted to perfection by Dunaev, maybe the best I've ever heard in modern times. Larina tries to comfort Lensky, tries to bring Olga in but she dismisses it, annoyed. After he has started singing, Olga does comes in, looking upset (one assumes, because Lensky is about to risk his life), looks around, drinks a glass of champagne, and finds the earring she seems to have lost during the party (which is what she was upset about), and leaves content, completely indifferent to Lensky. An old lady sitting next to him is the only one paying attention, and she sobs uncontrollably with the sadness of the song. Wow! Again, goosebumps!

The duel is not one. Lensky, seemingly in a suicidal mood, tosses a rifle to Onegin who tries not to take it. Lensky insists, shoves it into Onegin's hands, they fight, the rifle goes off apparently unintentionally, and kills Lensky. Interesting take, but I don't know if I like it. It partially takes down the aspect of guilty for Onegin. On the other hand it does fit better this modern production given that true duels are a thing of the past.

The third act is also in a similar room but now all painted in red, with a beautiful chandelier and guests are dressed luxuriously in rather beautiful costumes. The chairs are also different, with more ornaments.

Onegin tries to walk around and mingle but people generally avoid him and look at him with scorn. After his aria when he says he is bored (which he delivers to the crowd instead of as an introspection, which is certainly interesting), a chorus commenting extensively on him is sung - I have never seen this piece before; it's probably cut from other productions, or newly found and inserted.

The scene continues beautifully, with Gremin's aria being also well executed. For the final scene, the director also introduces some touches. First, Tatyana's confession that Onegin still troubles her is issued in front of her husband, who nevertheless has an understanding stance and he comforts her, and leaves her alone to sort it out with Onegin. The very emotional scene ensues, and at the end Onegin draws a pistol, the husband comes in, Tatyana lives with him not before Onegin pointing the pistol to them, then dramatically to himself, but they leave, indifferent, and Onegin doesn't have the courage to commit suicide. Curtain.

Phenomenal production! A++ in all aspects, and one of the best Eugene Onegin DVDs ever (and the competition is fierce!), with way more psychological rawness than usual . Highly recommended, not to be missed! It is interesting to know that the public in Moscow, used to the traditional staging that survived at the Bolshoi for 60 years until this one took over, left this production in droves before its end, and Galina Vishnevskaya, the prestigious old soprano, said she would never come to the theater again (didn't even come for her planned 80th anniversary gala, so enraged she was with this version. Well, I disagree. This was a very interesting rethinking of the piece, and it was strongly sang and acted. By the way, I forgot to mention, the orchestra and the conductor did a great job too.

The bonus feature is extremely interesting. It's a 28-minute documentary with all the main artists telling us about their take, especially the stage director's. It makes a lot of sense, and is fascinating.

Some interesting insights from the interviews in the bonus feature:

Mrs. Kasrashvili: "I didn't know it could be played like that. In other productions she is very strait-laced, boring. Frankly there isn't much to sing. But the stage director's proposal was interesting to me. She has abrupt mood swings. One minute she's roaring with laughter, the next she's sobbing. As an actress, it's important for me to bring something to the character rather than just singing the role."

Tcherniakov: "We are telling the story of people in whom the audience will recognize themselves. We didn't want to situate it in any specific era. Maybe the mid of the 20th century. We know nothing of the weather, who is in power, where the hero leaves for; setting it in an era would prompt questions irrelevant to this timeless story. Our eyes are focused on the family. Many background elements have disappeared. We don't leave the rooms. Why the table? It symbolizes togetherness. I wanted an object or ritual that would allow me to reveal this group of individuals, this standardized society, these everyday people, conventional, ordinary. I imagined their leisure time and obviously from a Russian perspective, it's around a table. There's no other way to pass the time. The table is the oppressive character of a normal life."

Vedernikov, the conductor, about the Letter Scene: "The real difficulty is the need to attain a certain balance. Firstly, between freedom and determinism, given that all the music flows from the sphere of romanticism. Secondly, we need to find the right limit between the sincerity of the declaration and a certain reserve, a certain intimacy, in order to avoid an emotional excess and a possible slide towards sentimentalism, which might seem to be an imitation of emotion."

Ms. Kasrashvili: "When I saw the Letter Scene in this production I was in tears. It veers toward tragedy."

Tcherniakov: "The Letter Scene is an attempt to destroy the ordinary. It's a way of breaking free from the constraints of daily life. The Letter Scene with its orchestral force and the role of the brass, attains a state of ecstasy."

Gleb Fishtinsky, lighting designer, about the Letter Scene: "The height of passion goes beyond all comprehension and normal physical phenomena. It becomes metaphysical. The chandelier explodes and the windows fly open. The new day rushes in."

Tatiana Monogarova: "I'm petrified that the lamp will shatter and the splinters will hit my face. I dread that moment! It must be spectacular to watch. The rushing wind generates emotions and gives birth to a storm all around."

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That's an example of how a concept can enrich an opera, and all the artists need to come together to fulfill the vision of the stage director. The documentary spends a long time going over the disagreements between Mariusz Kwiecien - who was the only non-Bolshoi singer - and Tcherniakov. The singer had his own ideas, having sung the role in five other productions, but according to him, Tcherniakov was tenacious, like a tank, going and going, and demanding his vision to be enacted - but ultimately accepting some compromise.

Mariusz said he came to agree to do certain things when he watched the Letter Scene. He went back to the hotel and thought: "If Tatiana Monogarova could do that, then I can, and shall, do as well what Dmitri is asking of me!"

The documentary shows Dmitri and Mariusz discussing line by line - and it is evident that Dmitri knows the music too - and there are various interesting moments, for example when Mariusz wants to be judgmental with Tatiana and Dmitri says "you are singing 'Don't deny it' like a prosecutor, and I want you to be gentle and caring, trying not to hurt her feelings." Then we see that "Don't deny it" and Mariusz nails it.

Again, a fascinating documentary that only adds more to the A++ nature of this DVD. Get it!

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 30th, 2017, 09:07 PM
Eugene Onegin on Blu-ray Disc

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81EFDOiJpGL._SX342_.jpg

Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana conducted by Omer Meir Wellber
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana, chorus master Francesc Perales

Filmed live at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia, Spain
A production of the Teatr Wielki, Polish National Opera, Warsaw
The package does not say when the show was filmed; since the copyright for the spectacle is from 2011, I assume it was that year, given that the blu-ray disc itself has a copyright from 2013.

Directed by Mariusz Trelinski
Sets by Boris Kudlicka
Costumes by Joanna Klimas
Lighting by Felice Ross
Choreographer Emil Wesolowski
Video direction by Tiziano Mancini

Cast

Tatyana - Kristine Opolais
Eugene Onegin - Artur Rucinski
Lenski - Dmitry Korchak
Olga - Lena Belkina
Madame Larina - Helene Schneiderman
Filipyevna - Margarita Nekrasova
Prince Gremin - Günther Groissböck
Triquet - Emilio Sánchez
A captain - Aldo Heo
Zaretski - Simon Lim
Guillot - Toni Navarrate (silent role)
O*** - Emil Wesolowski (the ghostly older Onegin, silent role non-existing in the original opera)

Blu-ray disc released by Kultur and Unitel Classica, region A/1, NTSC, 150 minutes, 16:9, LPCM or DTS-HD MA 5.1, subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. No insert at all, except for one little page with track list with the name of the musical numbers and characters but no duration. Period, full stop. Not a lot of information in this package. No bonus, except for trailers.
The DTS track is excellent and with more auditory punch than the LPCM one. Image is spectacular as usual with most blu-ray discs.

-------------

The initial scene in this production entirely cuts the chorus music for the peasants and the one for the young girls. I don't like it. This is not a long opera. It doesn't really need or deserve cuts. Things look up when a pretty Olga starts singing in great voice - one of the best Olga's I've seen. Then of course I'm very fond of Kristine Opolais so having her for two hours and a half on my screen and speakers is a treat.

We get a very affable Lensky but a very sinister Onegin, more akin to the devil in other operas like Faust or The Rake's Progress.

We get in this production a vocally much better Filipyevna as opposed to the last one I reviewed. The letter scene here is also impressive. Opolais does a good job both acting-wise and singing. The singers here have the advantage of body mikes as opposed to the Bolshoi touring production in Paris. Anyway, Opolais sings great the scene but overall I still prefer the one from the Bolshoi.

The ball that opens the second act is simply gorgeous. A blindfolded Tatiana stumbles around, and an explosion of color ensues, with dancers having animal heads, including the ghost of Onegin with a rat mask. It's visually stunning, the symbolism while a bit obvious featuring how hypocritical and ferocious society is, works reasonably well (well, kind of). Lensky is then blindfolded too, signaling, obviously, that he blindly walks into his perdition. Simply fabulous choreography! However it is only instrumental; the words sang by the guests in the libretto are not present.

The least convincing singer/actor here is Rucinsky, which is a pity. The conducting is also not that great, tending to be sluggish in parts. The orchestra is enthusiastic enough in the more lively parts of the score but lacks a bit of the elegance that the Bolshoi orchestra displayed in Paris.

Monsieur Triquet's costume is really over-the-top, pink, with pink hair. He is accompanied by three dancers who display effeminate gestures. There is a big flower that opens with a female dancer inside, who then floats in the air with multicolored wings. I find that the garish sets and costumes are a bit off, when compared to the start, sleek sets used for the other scenes. The singer doing Triquet is not good and has awful diction.

Dmitri Korchak sings "V vashem dome!" very delicately and beautifully. This young fellow is handsome too. Our Onegin, though, with his evil, rat-looking characterization, makes us wonder what on Earth the beautiful Tatiana saw in him.

Unlike the previously reviewed production that featured a cynical Olga who wasn't innocent at all, this one does seem to care for Lensky and be dismayed at the whole thing.

For the duel scene, the sets change into a snowy landscape over black background with one area of ghostly trees being lighted. Very striking! Simon Lim is a good comprimario, singing well the short role of Zaretsky. Korchak's "Kuda, Kuda" is delivered with the same delicacy in low volume that he used for his previous aria, but the version by Dunaev in the Bolshoi production is far superior. Given that I watched both today, I can't help but compare. This one is correct but lacks the emotional punch, depth, and especially the colors that Dunaev was able to deliver.

We do get a real duel. As Lensky gets killed, the ghost of the old Onegin despairs, while the young one just walks away. Beautiful scene.

Act III opens with the scene that is on the cover of the disc. The huge down-pointing arrow again is a bit of excessive symbolism (yes, we know that Eugene's life is going downhill). The costumes are interesting, though - a parade of robot-like or zombie-like figures coming down the stairs and strolling throughout the stage while the gorgeous waltz plays. Do we need to be reminded again of how stereotypical civilized society is? I like better Tcherniakov's more subtle symbolism instead of this on-your-face one. Lensky now in ghost form makes an appearance. Kristine looks great in her pink dress of the last act. Just looking at her is a blast. This is the enduring image, iconic of this entire production. Groissböck does a very good Prince Gremin. Rucinski's singing improved towards the end, properly warmed up. He had a pretty good third act.

Opolais, who was kept by the director cold and restrained throughout acts I and II and the first half of act III (even her letter scene is a bit icy), finally is allowed to explode more with emotion, in the very last scene. She is phenomenal and her third act is better than the one by our Boshoi's Tatiana, Ms. Monogarova (who beat Ms. Opolais in acts I and II, though).

In the end, we seem to see the death of the elderly Onegin, signaling that the whole opera was his remembrance of this episode of his life. That was intriguing. Apples run around (I forgot to mention that an apple tree is featured prominently in the opening scene - more heavy symbolism).

This production has strengths. It is visually stunning. The sets, lighting, choreography and costumes are great. Kristine Opolais is always a plus, and our Olga here is quite attractive too, and in good voice. However, other than a better Filipyevna here, and maybe our Olga, pretty much all remaining singers from the Bolshoi production beat these singers (Gremin is a tie). Also cutting some of the music wasn't cool and is totally unnecessary for an opera that is only two and a half hours long. I guess the director didn't want the happy dissonance of the two peasant choruses as compared to the darker feeling of the rest of the opera, but he could have learned with Tcherniakov, who integrated well those choruses into his concept, without any loss of dramatic impact. That's what good direction is.

The public in Valencia seems to be discerning enough, since their applause for Rucinski, the weakest singer in this production, was quite restrained.

This is a visually beautiful production but a bit cold; not as emotional as the Bolshoi's, which also overall featured better singing, chorus, conducting, and orchestral playing. The package is dreadful, with no booklet, and we can't even tell when this production was filmed (a Google search confirms that it was indeed in 2011). This one is not A++ like that one. Still, given the assets, I'll give it an A. More likely it would be a B+ but Opolais and the visual beauty of the physical production push it up to A. Not among the very top recent productions, but recommended, nevertheless.

MAuer
December 31st, 2017, 12:18 PM
Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova

I heard her live in this role with the Cincinnati Opera several years ago, and she was wonderful. (Nathan Gunn was her Onegin.)

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 31st, 2017, 02:31 PM
Tatiana - the aptly named Tatiana Monogarova

I heard her live in this role with the Cincinnati Opera several years ago, and she was wonderful. (Nathan Gunn was her Onegin.)
Wow, lovely. I hope she comes back this side of the pond, now that I'm aware of her. I could locate only two other US appearances other than the one you are reporting. Both in concert, at Avery Fisher Hall, and Houston Grand Opera.

But I don't know what happened to her. Operabase only has her scheduled until July 2016 (Mimì in Barcelona; previously Iolanta in Florence and Warsaw). Her biography at the Bolshoi website doesn't appear to be updated.

http://www.hbf.lv/files/images/makslinieki/Monogarova_Tatjana.jpg

https://musicofilia.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/monogarova.jpg?w=450

I hope she didn't quit or something. Or retired. Not impossible. I learned from her French Wikipédia biography that she is actually 50 years old, now. Depending on how she used her voice - which may have suffered overuse when you are a permanent ensemble member in such a prolific opera company like the Bolshoi - maybe her career is already over.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 31st, 2017, 03:04 PM
Eugene Onegin on DVD

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51hAainQydL._SY445_.jpg

Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

Filmed live at the, then, Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, now the Mariinsky, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1984.

The Kirov Opera Orchestra, conducted by Yuri Termikanov (not credited)
The Kirov Opera Chorus (chorus master, not credited)

There are no credits for the stage director and the rest of the crew, either

Cast

Tatiana - the also aptly named Tatiana Novikova
Eugene Onegin - Sergei Leyferkus
Lenski - Yuri Marusin
Olga - Larissa Dyadkova
Madame Larina - Evgenya Gorkovskaya
Filipyevna - Ludmila Filatova

Other roles - not credited.

DVD running time 155 minutes, no bonus. Region All. NTSC Color, 4:3. Sound Dolby 2.0 only. Subtitles in English, which can't be turned off. No insert other than one page with a brief synopsis and a chapter list with no other information. The image is very granular and the sound is not great, with a delay between image and sound so that sometimes the singers' lips appear out of sync. Apparently those who have receivers that can delay the sound (mine does have this function but I don't feel like looking up how to do it in the huge user manual) can fix this problem by entering a delay of 132 milliseconds. Sound capture and balance are primitive, capturing more the singers than the orchestra which sometimes can be barely heard.

-----------

The first scene features traditional, period sets and costumes (it doesn't get any more period than that), with some real parts (like the door and stairs) apparently mixed with painted backdrop that looks quite fake. The initial dialogue between Larina and Filipyevna is sung simultaneously instead of each one singing their parts in alternation. Larina is in excellent voice, powerful and well-modulated. On the other hand, it looks like these Russian productions do take the old age of Filipyevna seriously, and cast this role with elderly veterans. It's the case here, resulting, just like in the more recent Bolshoi production, in a singer whose voice is not that good, and this one has an unpleasant quality to her timbre, but at least she can be heard clearly unlike the one from the Bolshoi.

Not all the lyrics get translated, such as the first part of the peasants' chorus which is shown in abridged form (the music, I mean), without subtitles. The peasant girls' chorus is also minimally translated, and the choreography of their dances is rather conventional and not very well executed. The scene is very brief, skipping some repetitions that other productions have.

Here we get the hair colors the other way around as compared to the two productions I recently reviewed. Tatiana is a brunette, and Olga is a blonde. They both look their parts, being reasonably attractive and young-looking, and Olga sings well. Tatiana, less so; Tatiana Novikova while decent, is definitely less good a singer than Tatiana Monogarova and Kristine Opolais, not to forget Anna Netrebko and Renée Fleming, in other Eugene Onegin DVDs.

We get the two men, and they are both good singers. During the quartet in which Eugene and Vladimir are commenting upon Olga and Tatiana, the DVD skips the task of translating several parts of it, which are sung with no subtitles. If I didn't know by heart these lines by now, I'd be a bit confused. The rate is kind of two or three lines subtitled for every ten...

During the instrumental parts sound capture does get the orchestra well, and it is a good one. Transitions are smooth and playing is delicate.

The second scene in Tatiana's room features quite unattractive sets. Inexplicably, the boughs of foliage dropping from the roof which made sense in the first scene out in the garden, do not get removed, making for the weirdest of effects. What were they thinking? So now, foliage grows from the roof inside Tatiana's room?

The singers in this production do try to engage in some acting and it's not terrible, but it is not as good as what we came to expect from contemporary singers, who generally these days get more acting lessons during their training than the singers of the past. Our Tatiana however does deliver a decent Letter Scene, well sung and actually rather well acted (she does seem to possess more acting range than that of her colleagues).

For the next scene, the sets are made of painted backdrop with a rural landscape. This one looks a bit better than the two previous ones (although still not very realistic, since even in this granular image, one can see very well the canvas and its imperfections). The Kirov chorus sings beautifully the "Pretty maidens" number.

Our Onegin is very gentle with our Tatiana, doing the "don't deny it" the way Tcherniakov recommended in his production. The singer is more of the "park and bark" variety, not acting the part as well as our Tatiana does. I'm actually liking her more and more as the performance goes on (as usual, passing judgment at the very beginning is not ideal since in these live stage recordings as opposed to a studio one, singers start cold and need some time to warm up their voices). Sergey Leferkus has good musicality and his stylistic Russian singing is pleasant to the ears, and very beautiful, with good emotional color. His aria scolding and lecturing Tatiana is so far the best vocal performance of this show.

The next scene has sets depicting a large ballroom in the Larin's residence, and yay, they finally removed the foliage dropping from the roof. Oh wait, they didn't. The foliage is not there but dry branches are - maybe to signal that time has passed and now it is winter, but again, it doesn't work so well for these sets showing an interior room.

This scene is better done than the preceding ones, theatrically speaking, with better blocking and choreography, and the chorus continues to perform well. Costumes are appropriate and non-distracting, although not very luxurious as one might expect from a traditional staging. They are discreet, but tasteful.

Triquet is not a great singer and he weirdly performs his part with a very slow tempo that detracts from the comic effect and makes it more romantic than funny. He sings in Russian rather than in French as it is usually done. Apparently, though, Tchaikovsky's original version did have this part sung in Russian.

Again, being this the Kirov Opera *and Ballet* company, I expected more of the cotillion dancing scene, and the choreography is not that well executed with the couples keeping imperfect symmetry and irregular positioning on stage. I know I'm nitpicking...

Next scene, painted backdrop of a snowy landscape with a hint of dawn lights. Not bad, the prettiest so far. The orchestra continues to play very, very beautifully.

So, let's talk about this "Kuda, Kuda." I didn't like it. The singer used a very high volume, which gave it a shouty character that could use a more subtle approach. The voice is also too lachrymose, and the piercing high notes get to be a bit hurtful to the ears. This is the worst version of the last ones I've been reviewing.

The duel scene is convincingly acted. Actually maybe one of the best I've seen, acting-wise.

On to Prince Gremin's house. The sets are the best looking ones, and fairly grandiose. For the dancing, all ladies in white gowns and all gentlemen in black tuxedos make for a good-looking scene. Blocking and choreography are way better organized than in the previous scenes. This is finally looking like a Kirov production.

Tatiana's outfit is not very flattering. Weird hat. The singer doing Prince Gremin, although in tired voice (looks quite the veteran, too), is fairly emotionally delivered, in terms of the phrasing of the musical line. Pitch control is not great. Overall, in spite of the decent phrasing, it's a weak version.

The last scene with Onegin begging Tatiana to accept him is fine; again with her acting being better than his; both sing it well.

So, here are the strengths: very delicate orchestral playing, subtle and elegant, with smooth transitions (a bit on the slow side, in terms of pacing, and definitely not lively). Some good singing - especially from Olga, Tatiana, and Onegin, with a good Larina too. Lensky, Filipyevna, Triquet, and Prince Gremin, not so much. Good chorus. Fairly good-looking Act III scenery with nice choreography and costumes. Well acted Letter Scene and duel scene. An overall fine Tatiana.

The downsides: the above mentioned less-than-ideal singers, unattractive sets for act I and half of act II, traditional production with little imagination (sort of bland). Disappointing blocking and choreography in acts I and II. Primitive image and sound, bare-bones product with no insert and other technical problems including an audio-video sync issue, and fixed subtitles that can't be removed and fail to translate some stretches.

Overall, B, not recommended. I understand the "classic" appeal, but there are much better products out there. Those who love traditional productions, though, might enjoy a fine Tatiana and a decent Onegin, singing over a competent orchestra.

In the end, the credits that roll do appear to be way more complete, with a long list of names so I suppose we'd have learned the names of the other crew members and comprimario roles, but it's all in Cyrillic alphabet and while I would be able to decipher it if I took my time to look at each name, I don't feel like doing it, so the review goes without the names of all the artists and crew members.

Amfortas
December 31st, 2017, 06:22 PM
In the end, we seem to see the death of the elderly Onegin, signaling that the whole opera was his remembrance of this episode of his life. That was intriguing.

I liked this production, in part because of the spectral presence of the old Onegin throughout (including a kind of mournful pas de deux with Tatiana in the Letter Scene). Not the first or only production one should see, but worth watching.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 31st, 2017, 07:46 PM
Eugene Onegin as abridged filmed opera, on DVD

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51XJsFZLZiL._SY445_.jpg

Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, premiered in Moscow, 1879
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer, based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin

Filmed opera done in the real St. Petersburg city and its countryside, in 1958 with screen actors for the images, and dubbed voices of opera singers.

The Bolshoi Opera Orchestra, conducted by Boris Khaikin
Soloists, Chorus, and Corps de Ballet of the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Chorus master, not credited

Cast

Tatiana - actress Ariadna Shengelaya, singer Galina Vishnevskaya
Eugene Onegin - actor Vadim Medvedev, singer the aptly named Yevgeni Kibkalo
Lenski - actor Igor Ozerov, singer Anton Grigoriev
Olga - actress Svetlana Nemoliayeva, singer Larisa Avdeyeva
Gremin - actor Ivan Petrov, singer the same Ivan Petrov

Other roles, not credited

Motion Picture Director - Roman Tikhomirov
Photography - Yevgeni Shapiro
Sets - Nikolai Suvorov

DVD released in 2007 by Kultur, digitally encoded from the original Corinth Films 1958 analog source; no insert whatsoever, limited credits provided on the back cover. Sung in Russian, with non-removable English subtitles. Running time 106 minutes. No extras. NTSC Color 4:3, no mention of sound system but since there is a mention of Dolby copyright, it's probably remastered Dolby. The image is reasonably good, better than that of the Kirov DVD reviewed above, and the sound is quite decent. All regions.

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This is good, folks. It's extremely well sung. Of course, it amounts to a studio recording lip-sync'ed to the actors and actresses, and the high quality of the singing shows. The famous Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya is out of this world as Tatiana, and Anton Grigoriev is a superb Lensky. I like less the nasal voice of Yevgeni Kibkalo (I understand this kind of voice was in fashion at the time, in Russia), but it does impact a sort of snobbish, arrogant side to the role that matches well the character Onegin. Olga, Larina, and Filipyevna are all staffed by very good singers, too. This is probably the overall best singing of the four DVDs of Eugene Onegin I reviewed yesterday and today.

It is abridged. Some parts of some scenes are skipped and we get a voice over, with a narration, to bridge the cut parts. As a motion picture of 106 minutes instead of the usual 150, I guess it works (with one exception; see below). It looks like this voice over maybe came straight from Pushkin's text.

Of course, with the luxury of using screen actors and actresses for the filmed image, the director picked people who really look their parts, especially the two very dashing and handsome gentlemen. Paradoxically, with so many gorgeous Russian women in that country, the two girls are good-looking but not stunning (Tatiana does look better than the unflattering cover picture, and Olga is cute - by the way that picture doesn't capture the looks of the very handsome Vadim Medvedev either, and Igor Ozerov is even better-looking).

I generally like filmed opera when it is well done; it gives one the impression that we are actually witnessing the true events, if only they were real. And this one, without being a masterpiece, is fairly well done.

Interesting enough, the major strength of this movie is the singing rather than the acting. While the latter is correct (after all, these are professional screen actors and actresses), I've actually seen better, done by opera singers, such as the phenomenal Tatiana Monogarova.

But this production flows well and is very pleasant to watch.

It is a very questionable move, though, that in the interest of time, the Letter Scene suffers deep cuts! Well, it's by far the best part of this opera if we exclude "Kuda, Kuda" so I don't understand why they wanted to keep it shorter. They skipped the whole dialogue between Tatiana and Filipyevna after the scene (the "send your grandson" part), which is fine, but much worse, they cut some of Tatiana's lines as well, while she is considering and writing the letter. That's a no-no. I counted; there were about 32 lines skipped *during* the Letter Scene, so we got a bit more than half of it. A very questionable and incomprehensible choice. There are other parts that can be cut elsewhere, but not the Letter Scene!!!

The ball at the Larins' house is very well filmed, with nice costumes and choreography.

Triquet sings in French, and does it well, very melodiously, but it's very abridged, just one stanza.

There are long dancing scenes. They could have kept these shorter, and showed the full Letter Scene. Oh well.

The confrontation between Lensky and Onegin during the ball is well done.

From the ball, we skip the preliminary scene before the duel, and go directly to "Kuda, Kuda" which is sung in his room, before Lensky goes to the field.

As expected, the rendition is spectacular. What a tenor, Mr. Anton Grigoriev!

Pretty spectacular cinematography and acting in the duel scene, very realistic.

Then we move to the beautiful imperial city of St. Petersburg. Onegin sings his "I'm bored" aria walking around the beautiful urban landscape with the bridges and buildings in the background.

Of course the ballroom scene at Prince Gremin's is even more visually stunning than the one at the Larins'. Tatiana's transformation, though, is less striking, because they had already dressed her well for the previous ball at her mother's.

They do include the extensive commentary about Onegin that is omitted from many productions, before Gremin's aria. So it's been there after all (I had some doubt on this in one of my previous reviews).

Gremin's singing is superb too, completing the list of extraordinary singers in this movie. The singer looks his part, very dignified gentleman, so they kept him without casting an actor to man this part for the screen.

They got the same hat for Tatiana... I guess it's a prop that has been passing generation to generation in these Bolshoi productions. I actually think Tatiana is now less pretty than in the previous scenes. Once she removes her hat, her hairdo is less flattering than the one in her youth.

OK, the last scene features passionate singing, again fantastic from Tatiana, and nasal from Oneguin. It's well acted, though. The end.

Not bad at all. I liked this movie, and find it actually superior to the other traditional stagings on DVD. I guess having this one for the traditional feel and one of the modern, more Regie ones for more drama (like the Met one with Renée and/or the Tcherniakov one) would be ideal for someone trying to get to know this opera.

Grade A, recommended.

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
December 31st, 2017, 09:23 PM
That's the end of the four Eugene Onegin DVDs I took upon myself to review this weekend.
Happy New Year! See you next year!

Amfortas
December 31st, 2017, 10:02 PM
Not bad at all. I liked this movie, and find it actually superior to the other traditional stagings on DVD. I guess having this one for the traditional feel and one of the modern, more Regie ones for more drama (like the Met one with Renée and/or the Tcherniakov one) would be ideal for someone trying to get to know this opera.

Grade A, recommended.

Yes, I have and like this one as well. The cuts are a problem, but it's fun to see Onegin as a full-scale Russian movie.

EDIT: What about Anna's Met production? But you probably reviewed that already . . .

Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)
January 1st, 2018, 05:33 AM
Yes, I have and like this one as well. The cuts are a problem, but it's fun to see Onegin as a full-scale Russian movie.

EDIT: What about Anna's Met production? But you probably reviewed that already . . .
I did, earlier this thread you find my review of it. It's a good one.
I actually like better the previous one with Renée Fleming.
But I think I liked Tcherniakov's even more.