In This Lull Too: Eugene Onegin

It was time I saw Eugene Onegin. I have a historical cd of it with a synopsis but without a libretto.

In the opera house I bought Tchaikovsky’s Enchantress. Because of the surtitles I could read what the characters were singing. The mother was saying she loved an elegant young guardsman but it was her fate to be married to another man and a life of domestic doings substituted for happiness.

Lensky’s happiness would have been to marry his childhood sweetheart Olga and write more poetry but his fate was to die at the hands of his friend.

Tatyana had been waiting for the man and found him in Onegin she risked telling her love to, giving him pointers for refusal which he took, adding for good measure she should show more restraint in future. Apart from that Parthian shot, his advice was sensible as Tatyana much later acknowledges but, within an ace of happiness, she was doomed instead to be married off to a man who did love her and was a rich prince to boot.

Onegin, having missed his opportunity, on remeeting Tatyana, realises his love. She says it’s because she’s a rich princess now but he convincingly says it’s not. She admits she loves him but she’s made a commitment and doesn’t want to see him again and he goes off, “Miserable fate!” he cries, presumably to commit suicide.

That the fate theme’s worked out is good. The characterisation, down to nurse and chorus of practical Russians, very good and the music terrific.

The production wasn’t conventional: Tatyana’s young self or alter ego is personified on stage by other than the principal singer and on being rejected encloses herself in the book cupboard of romantic fiction she’d been prone to read. Onegin’s alter ego shows friendship for Lensky during the duel scene and Lensky’s body is left on stage to show how responsibility for Lensky’s death weighs on Onegin. I might want to see a more straightforward production but am glad I saw this one.


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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