Eugene Onegin, Lyric scenes in three acts, sung in Russian, with English supertitles
Premiered at the Moscow Conservatory, March 29, 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 North Carolina Opera Orchestra conducted by Timothy Myers
The North Carolina Opera Chorus, chorus master Scott Macleod

Presented in concert, on Sunday January 24, 2016 at 3 PM, Meymandi Concert Hall, Raleigh, NC, USA

Production Stage Manager Linda T. Carlson

This performance was recorded for broadcast on WCPE-FM (89.7, Raleigh) - it will be presented on May 5, both over-the-air and website streaming - not to be missed!

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Cast

Tatiana - Joyce El-Khoury
Eugene Onegin - Joo Won Kang
Lensky - Eric Barry
Olga - Zanda Svede
Madame Larina - Robynne Redomn
Filippyevna - Victoria Livensgood
Prince Gremin - Kenneth Kellogg
Triquet - Jason Ferrante
A captain - Scott Mcleod
Zaretsky - Charles Hyland

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North Carolina Opera with this excellent opera-in-concert almost matched their best show ever, Rusalka, and it is no coincidence that the leading soprano was the same one in both performances: the fabulous Opera Lively interviewee Joyce El-Khoury [read her piece by clicking (here)].

It was a cold, snowy weekend in North Carolina after winter storm Jonas cut the power in 145,000 households, and the mighty Carolina Panthers were about to play their NFC Championship Game. Neither the snow nor the Panthers stopped NCO patrons from coming in very good numbers to attend this rare opportunity - it was indeed Eugene Onegin's North Carolina premiere. We are thankful to NCO for bringing to the Triangle a lot more than the usual fare that is typical of other regional companies. No, our home company is adventurous, and this is great. From the beginning, this young and courageous company has presented to our public contemporary opera (more than once), Wagner, Janáček...

One of the best characteristics of NCO is its ability to cast well.

Joyce was a great Tatiana: youthful, pretty, acting beautifully with her facial expressions, and with a secure voice that served her well in the long and difficult Letter Scene, to wild applause. We wouldn't expect any less from her, and she delivered big.

I was very pleasantly surprised with two other singers who were just as extraordinary in their roles. Victoria Livengood almost stole the show from her younger colleagues. Our dear "Dixie Diva" veteran, a North Carolina native with 80 roles in her repertory, who sang 120 performances at the Met and is still going (most recently seen there as the Fortuner Teller in Arabella), was simply excellent as Filippyevna, a role that is a lot more important in this opera than it seems. Victoria's voice has no wobble, and remains strong with great projection and diction (her Russian was arguably the best one on stage).

Zanda Svede, a Latvian mezzo who is currently a second-year Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, couldn't be any more charming as Olga. Ms. Svede is a very beautiful, tall, slim, and attractive young lady, and she sings divinely. One looks forward to her scheduled Carmen at Lyric Opera Kansas City. As she develops more, we'll hear about this singer; I'm certain.

Robynne Redmon did well in the smaller role of Madame Larina, and other comprimarios (almost all of whom we've heard in other shows) were very successful.

Joo Won Kang was elegant and solid in the title role. I was a bit less impressed with Eric Barry as Lensky - at times he seemed under-powered, although in his defense, Eugene Onegin is a tricky opera to sing in concert, given the lush orchestration that uses 60 instrumentalists and a 40-person chorus. When the orchestra is right behind you instead of partially buried in the pit, being heard at the back of the hall is not a simple task.

Maestro Timothy Myers directed the orchestra very well, with great delicacy and elegance. Another extraordinary element this afternoon was the NC Chorus. This ensemble is getting better and better, now that a permanent chorus master has been hired - Scott Mcleod is a good opera singer himself, which, no doubt, helps him in his effort to push this chorus to ever higher operatic standards.

This show was very satisfactory. Eugene Eunegin is one of my favorite operas, and I was very pleased with how well it was rendered by NCO. One hour before the show, the company had a guest lecturer, Duke University music history professor Briam Gillian, who aptly exposed the opera's three acts under the headings "passion," "remorse," and "despair," and brought us some interesting facts about the musical environment in Europe when Tchaikovsky composed this piece.

To add another nice touch, sitting to my left there was a father who brought his son, age 10, to the opera for the fifth time, and the young boy was mesmerized, paying strict attention, and asking his father pertinent questions during intermission. The new generation of opera lovers is starting early, these days!

It is interesting to notice how well NCO does opera in concert. Some of the best shows of the last few seasons, (actually in my opinion better than their recent fully staged shows), were all in concert: Aida, Rusalka, the Wagner concert, and now Eugene Onegin. Bravo, NCO, and keep up with the good work!

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Pre-opera talk by professor Briam Gillian