• Eugene Onegin

    by Published on February 4th, 2012 02:50 PM     Number of Views: 6538 
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    YEVGÉNY ONÉGIN (Евгений Онегин - Eugene Onegin)
    Lyric Scenes in Three Acts (1879)
    Music by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky - Пётр Ильич Чайковский (1840-1893)
    Libretto by the composer, his brother Modest, and Konstantin Stepanovich Shilovsky, after Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin's novel in verse (1833)

    Setting and time setting - A country estate in Russia, and St. Petersburg, circa 1820
    Approximate running time - 2 hours and 30 minutes

    Characters and voices

    Larina, a landowner - mezzo soprano
    Tatyana, her daughter, a teenager - soprano
    Olga, Tatyana's older sister - contralto
    Filipyevna - an old nursemaid - mezzo soprano
    Yevgeny Onegin - landowner and playboy - baritone
    Lensky - his friend, a poet, the Larins' neighbor and Olga's intended - tenor
    Prince Gremin - Tatyana's husband in the third act - bass
    A Company Commander - bass
    Zaretsky - Lensky's second and duel organizer - bass
    Triquet - a Frenchman - tenor
    Guillot - a valet de chambre, Onegin's man - silent
    Peasants, ballroom guests, landowners, officers
    by Published on February 4th, 2012 03:19 AM     Number of Views: 6470 
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    An interesting fact surrounding this opera is that it came a long way after a very slow start: it premiered as a student production (at the Malïy Theater in Moscow, on March 29, 1879, with student singers from the Moscow Conservatory), and only got a professional performance at the Bolshoi one year and ten months later, on January 23, 1881.

    Reception wasn't that great, especially as compared to the wild success of Maid of Orleans. Many critics complained that Tchaikovsky shouldn't have messed with one of Russia's most beloved works of literature.

    Outside Russia the initial reception was lukewarm as well, and it was slow to conquer other European cities, being seen as a Russian curiosity.
    by Published on February 3rd, 2012 12:25 AM     Number of Views: 13334 

    So that our readers can follow the opera while they read the musical analysis scene by scene, here is the first complete recording of Eugene Onegin, made in 1936. It was allegedly the soundtrack for a film that was never made.

    Eugene Onegin Vassily Nebolsin Bolshoi 1936 Tchaikovsky
    Lensky -Sergei Lemeshev
    Eugene Onegin - Panteleimon Nortsov
    Prince Gremin - Alexander Pirogov
    Tatania - Glafira Joukovskaya
    Olga - Bronislava Zlatogorova
    Larina - Maria Boutienina
    Filipievna - Konkordiya Antarova
    Triquet - Ivan Kovalenko
    Zaretsky - Anatoly Yakhontov
    Captain - Igor Mantchavin


    It's difficult to appreciate in the 21st century how much of a novelty was Onegin, when it premiered in Moscow, back in 1879. Most of Russian and Slavic opera was devoted to political topics (A Life for the Tsar, Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina,...), fairy tales (Ruslan and Ludmila, Rusalka, May Night,..) or even Biblical adaptations like Serov's Judith. However, Onegin was centered in the life and passions of standard human beings.

    Onegin is a Romantic opera. It's also full of melody, there are no formal experiments here, it was the perfect daughter of her times. Of course, with such a crafted instrumental music composer for the orchestra as Tchaikovsky was, we can find many fine details in the orchestration, as well as some motif building, but the prominent role is never in the pit, it's in the voices of the singers. Not that there is any spectacular vocal pyrotechnics, that was very far from Tchaikovsky's intention, nor do they fight a huge orchestra. He just wanted from his singers expressiveness, and flawless delivery of the text.
    by Published on January 30th, 2012 01:23 AM     Number of Views: 7620 
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    Let's start with some notes on two historical Lenskys, the two best tenors of Imperial Russia.

    Of course, one of them is the great singer Leonid Sobinov. He was active from 1899 to 1914, and then after the Great War he was busy with being the Bolshoi's director, and little by little he just retired as a singer. On stage, he was a great mixture of the Italianate school of singing, and the Stanislavski's acting system.

    Listen to his flexible voice, a very fluent singing, always restrained and elegant.

    In 1934, he died but passed the torch to none other than Sergei Lemeshev.

    by Published on February 4th, 2012 04:34 PM     Number of Views: 14154 
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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.
    by Published on February 4th, 2012 06:26 PM     Number of Views: 8507 
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    Metropolitan Opera production by Robert Carsen, Set and Costume designs by Michael Levine, Lighting design by Jean Kalman, Choreographer Serge Bennathan, Stage Director Peter McClintock

    New York City, Metropolitan Opera House, February 2007

    This beautiful minimalistic production opens with a fall foliage cascade with the isolated figure of Eugene Onegin on the center of the stage, over simple tall walls.
    by Published on March 16th, 2012 05:16 PM  Number of Views: 6218 

    The one singer we haven't interviewed from the upcoming Opera Carolina performance of Eugene Onegin is Ms. Victoria Livengood, and it is a pity, since she is a native of North Carolina, also know as "The Dixie Diva." She has had a very illustrious career and performed opposite great tenors, in great opera houses around the world. Now she is back and is living in North Carolina again. She sings Filipevna in this production.
    by Published on March 18th, 2012 09:00 AM  Number of Views: 10457 
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    Eugene Onegin, lyric opera in three acts (1879), music by Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky; libretto by the composer, Konstantin Shilovsky, and Modest Tchaikovsky, based on the novel of the same title (1833) by Alexander Pushkin

    Produced by Opera Carolina at the Belk Theather, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, in Charlotte, NC, USA; opening night on March 17, 2012
    The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Meena
    The Opera Carolina Chorus

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