Eugene Onegin Act III The Polonaise

Steven Naylor

Steven Naylor, Director of Artistic Administration at Glyndebourne, gives a personal view of his favourite moments to look out for in Eugene Onegin.

Tchaikovsky's great opera, also subtitled "Lyrical Scenes"with its abundance of passionate, romantic and sumptuous melodies, is vividly brought to life in Graham Vick's celebrated and acutely detailed production.

There is so much wonderful writing; some of my highlights are the poet Lenski's Act I aria with his ardent declaration of love for Olga, Tatyana's sister, and the contrast with his melancholic Act 2 aria where he bids goodbye to love in the early, frozen morning before his duel with his best friend Onegin.

The centre piece of Act 1 is Tatyana's (sung by Ekaterina Scherbachenko) romantic and yearning outpouring of love in the famous letter scene followed by Onegin's (sung by Andrei Bondarenko) cold and harsh rejection. 

The warm and tender aria of Prince Gremin in Act 3 where he tells Onegin of the great happiness and love that marriage with Tatyana has brought him and the impassioned realization from Onegin that he is in love with Princess Tatyana in the close of Act 3 scene 1.  The great final duet in Act 3 where Onegin desperately confesses his love to Princess Tatyana and where she, while acknowledging that they were so close to happiness, breaks down and admits she does indeed love him, followed by Onegin's anguished torment when Tatyana finds the courage and resolution to declare she will remain faithful to her husband. 

Tchaikovsky the great ballet composer also brings us four wonderful dances in this opera: the exciting peasants' dance in Act 1, the joyous waltz in Madame Larina's ball at the opening of Act 2 with the great mazurka which follows. Act 3 opens at a St Petersburg ball with one of the most celebrated polonaises.

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