Intensely passionate drama set to some of opera’s most sweeping, soulful, and heart-stoppingly beautiful music — that is Eugene Onegin.
Tatiana is a lovesick country girl, and Onegin is the sophisticated young man who callously spurns her love before realizing, too late, what a mistake he’s made.
Here is Pushkin’s profoundly human, hopelessly romantic, ultimately devastating story, elevated by Tchaikovsky’s richly layered and unabashedly expressive music. Find out why Eugene Onegin is beloved by opera audiences the world over.
Libretto by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky based on the novel in verses of the same name by Alexander Pushkin.
Music Director: Tugan Sokhiev
Stage Director: Eugeny Arye
Set Designer: Simon Pastukh
Costume Designer: Galina Solovyova
Chief Chorus Master: Valery Borisov
Lighting Designer: Damir Ismagilov
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin have long ago broken all records for opera production longevity. And now the Bolshoi is about to offer our regenerated Russian society new interpretations of this masterpiece, embracing all recent developments in theatre and musicological thought. To work out new aesthetic principles for the stage treatment of Russian opera classics - is a colossal undertaking for which the Bolshoi Theatre has been preparing itself for many a year.
The new Eugene Onegin is more than a mechanical substitute of a new for an old production. The basic idea of the project is to return to the musical source, the composer’s initial conception, which he managed to realize at the Maly Theatre 1879 premiere of his lyrical scenes. "I will never give this opera to the Imperial Theatre Directorate, before it has been seen at the Conservatoire. I wrote it for the Conservatoire because it is not the routine and convention of a large stage, with its meaningless, if sumptuous productions, that I need here…" (From Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky’s letters to K. Altman).
The man responsible for this new, virtually chamber production of Tchaikovsky’s opera is Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose large scale opera productions have garnered many prizes. At the Bolshoi, Tcherniakov continues to develop the other trend in his staging stylistics, to which he put a start in his previous production for the Theatre’s New Stage - Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.
Eugene Onegin has been called from wildlife of pleasure to his sick uncle, of whose property he takes possession after the uncle’s sudden death. He has brought with him from the big city profound satiety of all enjoyments and a deep contempt for the society of mankind in his solitary country seat. Here, however, he forms a friendship for a young fanatic, the poet Lenski. Through him, he is introduced to Larina, a woman who owns an estate. Her two daughters, Olga and Tatiana, correspond to the double nature of their mother, whose youth was a period of sentimentality in which she allowed herself to be affected like others by Richardson’s novels, raved over Grandison, and followed the wild adventures of Lovelace with anxious thrills.
Life later had made her rational, altogether too rational and insipid. Olga now has become a cheerful, superficial, pleasureful silly young girl; Tatiana, a dreamer whose melancholy is increasing through reading books which her mother had once used. Lenski is betrothed to Olga. Tatiana recognizes at her first sight of Onegin the realization of her dreams. Her heart goes out to meet him and in her enthusiasm, she reveals all her feelings in a letter to him. Onegin is deeply stirred by this love; a feeling of confidence in mankind that he had not known for such a long time awakens in him. But he knows himself too well. He knows that every faculty as a husband is departing from him. And now he considers it his duty not to disappoint this maiden soul, to be frank.
He refuses her love. He takes the blame on himself, but he would not have been the worldly wise man if his superiority to the simple country child had not been emphasized chiefly on this account. But Tatiana only listens to the refusal, she is very unhappy. Onegin remains her ideal, who now will be still more solitary, in spite of it.
Tatiana’s name-day is being celebrated with a big hall. Onegin goes there on Lenski’s invitation. The stupid company with their narrow views about him vex him so much that he seeks to revenge himself on Lenski for it, for which he begins courting Olga. Lenski takes the jest in earnest; it comes to a quarrel between the friends Lenski rushes out and sends Onegin a challenge. Social considerations force Onegin to accept the challenge; a duelling fanatic landlord, Saretsky stirs Lenski’s anger so severely that a reconciliation is not possible.
This part in Pushkin’s work is the keenest satire, an extraordinarily efficacious mockery of the whole subject of duelling. There is derision on Onegin’s side, too, for he chooses as his second his coachman Gillot. But the duel was terribly in earnest; Lenski falls, shot through by his opponent’s bullet. (This scene recalls a sad experience of the poet himself; for he himself fell in a duel by the bullet of a supercilious courtier, Georg d’Anthès-Heckeren, who died in Alsace in 1895).
Twenty-six years later. Onegin has restlessly wandered over the world. Now he is in St. Petersburg at a ball given by Prince Gremin. There, if he sees aright, Princess Gremina, that accomplished woman of the world is "his" Tatiana.
Now his passion is aroused in all its strength. He must win her. Tatiana does not love him with the same ardour as before. When she upbraids Onegin that he loves her only because has now become a brilliant woman of the world it is only a means of deceiving herself and her impetuous adorer as to her real feelings. But finally her true feeling is revealed. She tells Onegin that she loves him as before. But at the same time, she explains that she will remain true to her duty as a wife. Broken-hearted Onegin leaves her.
Eugene Onegin is an opera ("lyrical scenes") in 3 acts (7 scenes), by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto was written by Konstantin Shilovsky and the composer and his brother Modest, and is based on the novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin.
Eugene Onegin is a well-known example of lyric opera; the libretto very closely follows Pushkin's original, retaining much of his poetry, to which Tchaikovsky adds music of a dramatic nature. The story concerns a selfish hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman's love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend.
The opera was first performed in Moscow in 1879. There are several recordings of it, and it is regularly performed. The work's title refers to the protagonist.