Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Eugene Onegin

18 May - 11 July 2014
Festival 2014

This production has ended but there are still tickets available for La finta giardiniera in August

"It struck me as wild, and I made no reply," wrote Tchaikovsky in response to a friend’s proposal of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin as an operatic subject. But the idea so gripped him that, within eight months, he transformed a revered master-work of Russian literature into the best-loved, and arguably greatest, of all Russian operas.

Onegin’s libretto closely follows the plot of Pushkin’s novel-in-verse and retains much of its poetry. But Tchaikovsky removed the ironic narrator’s voice, turning a biting satire into a sentimental romantic drama focused not on its title character but on its heroine. ‘I had so familiarised myself with the figure of Tatyana that she had become for me a living person,’ wrote Tchaikovsky.

The cynical young Onegin rejects Tatyana, a dreamy, bookish country girl. But Onegin lives to regret it when, years later, he re-encounters Tatyana, now a beautiful, worldly woman who has married into wealthy society. Tchaikovsky clothed this tale in the Romantic theatrical, domestic, and ballroom music of the story’s milieu, in and around St. Petersburg circa 1820.

Graham Vick’s 1994 staging, last seen at Glyndebourne in 2008, was deemed by The Financial Times as ‘… a performance that now ranks as a Glyndebourne classic.’

Its authentic flavour is enhanced by a largely Slavic cast, headed by Ekaterina Scherbachenko as Tatyana and Andrei Bondarenko as Onegin, both of whom made their Glyndebourne Festival debuts in La bohème in 2012. Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber, in his Glyndebourne debut, leads the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Listen to our Eugene Onegin podcast:

Supported by Lord and Lady Laidlaw

A revival of the 1994 Festival production
Sung in Russian with English supertitles

This production (recorded at the 1994 Festival) is available on DVD from our shop

Dates & Times - Eugene Onegin

This production has ended but there are still tickets available for La finta giardiniera in August

Act I 

On her country estate Larina and her old servant Filipyevna listen
to the singing of her daughters Tatyana and Olga. Olga’s suitor Lensky arrives unexpectedly and introduces his friend Eugene Onegin. They are invited to stay to dinner.

Later Tatyana stays up all night writing a love letter to Onegin.  She begs Filipyevna to deliver it and anxiously waits for a reply.

Onegin himself arrives bringing her letter back. Though touched, he is not yet ready for marriage. It might be better to control her feelings – another man might take advantage of her.

Act II 

At Tatyana’s name day party Onegin is bored out of his mind.
To keep himself entertained he flirts with Olga. Lensky grows insanely jealous and soon the situation is out of hand. Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel.

At dawn Lensky has time to reflect – Onegin is late. Though both men are reluctant to duel there is no going back. Onegin kills his best friend.

Act III

Onegin spends several years abroad. On his return to St Petersburg he attends a ball. His old friend Prince Gremin has taken a new young wife. When they are introduced Onegin recognises the Princess as Tatyana. He is besotted.

Tatyana refuses to reply to his letters, Onegin bursts in on her, begging her to run off with him: they are meant for each other. Tatyana cannot resist her turn to lecture. There is no way out.

Creative Team

Conductor Omer Meir Wellber
Director Graham Vick 
Designer Richard Hudson
Choreographer Ron Howell
Lighting Designer Matthew Richardson

Cast

Madame Larina Diana Montague
Tatyana Ekaterina Scherbachenko
Olga Ekaterina Sergeeva
Filipyevna Irina Tchistjakova
Lensky Edgaras Montvidas
Eugene Onegin Andrei Bondarenko
Monsieur Triquet François Piolino
Prince Gremin Taras Shtonda
Zaretsky Scott Conner 

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne Chorus

“…this Onegin has “must see” written all over it.”
Rated 5* by the Financial Times

“Richard Hudson’s light-filled designs, Ron Howell’s masterly choreography and Jeremy Bines’ superb management of the chorus, make up a most appealing whole. If you’ve never seen this opera, this production is the perfect first-time one – indeed, it’s the ideal introduction to opera in general.”
Rated 5* by MusicOMH 

“…a beautiful revival of Graham Vick’s 1994 staging which makes an exemplary virtue of simplicity.” 
Rated 4* by the Daily Telegraph

Comments

Beautiful production, spirited and visually superb. The quality of delivery in Russian was a particular delight. As Graham Vick says, there is finally no bridging Pushkin and Tchaikovsky: one has to choose. I found it impressive how much care and thought he had given to this dilemma and how much of the tone and quality of Pushkin he had managed artfully to re-infiltrate, probably taking this to the limit of possibility. There was a particularly striking sense of Pushkin's own sketches of himself and Onegin hovering in the light and silhouette of the garden scenes. Well done!

Will this be revived yet again? You need to assume not and beg borrow or steal to get a ticket if you have never seen this. I must have seen this production over twenty times but the performance on 5th July still had me utterly enraptured.

Am I the only person who found this a rather lacklustre production? The answer is 'no' in fact: the friend I went with (on June 17th) fully agreed with me. The orchestra was superb; Tatyana delivered wonderfully in the letter scene; and the chorus was excellent, as ever. But Onegin and Lensky seemed vocally rather miscast. And for a production of 'Eugene Onegin' this was sadly lacking in emotional force: the principals didn't seem to entirely believe in what they were doing. I was also underwhelmed by some counter-intuitive flourishes in the production that seemed designed simply to counter the bareness of the set. It was my birthday and we were determined to enjoy it - but we came away quite disappointed.

A simply outstanding performance. Mr. Vick's production is as incisive and elegant as the work itself; I find it hard to envision a more perfectly judged staging. Mr. Wellber's conducting was glorious--he is surely the best young conductor I have heard in some time--and the orchestra played immaculately under him. Please bring him back soon! This was complemented by a cast that was near to ideal, and which I have never seen bettered in a performance of the opera. Congratulations to all on a magnificent production.

Tchaikovsky deliberately took only a few sections of Pushkin’s tale to keep his opera simple, so his audience could just focus on his glorious music and the post adolescent relations of four young people. In Verdi’s hand the story line might have been more complex and Acts 1 and 2 would have ended no doubt with his typical red-blooded and rousing endings rather than the gentle whimper that Tchaikovsky composed - as if saving himself for the final drama of Onegin’s comeuppance. And here lies the genius of this opera – its pace, structure, subtlety, and overall simplicity.

Which is why this Glyndebourne production is as near to perfect as you can get. Its beauty comes from its simplicity and also in the subtle details of each scene. Bondarenko’s D’Arcy-esque Onegin was played out with such reserved arrogance, helped of course by his glorious baritone voice (what a wonderful future Scarpia!). Diana Montague never fails to bring elegance and pathos to her parts (a consummate actress as well as singer). Maestro Wellber completely understands the subtlety of Tchaikovsky’s score – how difficult it is to play Tchaikovsky’s big moments and still have the voices heard – and of course the LPO as usual effortlessly adapted their playing style from the concert hall to pit.

Please Glyndebourne. Do more like this. Before being silly again, like you did with Strauss and Rameau last year, stop and think what the composer might think had he been in the audience. Tchaikovsky would have been very proud of himself last night!

I very rarely buy full price opera tickets. To tempt me the composer must be Richard Strauss. But Glyndebourne very kindly offered members the chance to buy full price tickets for this at a £80 price tag. So on 6th June there I was in a dead central seat in the foyer circle. Although I had seen this production many times I found the quality of the spectacle from my posh seat truly spellbinding with a performance to match. Thank you Glyndebourne.

Onegin was the first opera I saw at Glyndebourne, in the old house, many years ago. The performance I saw on 28th May was outstanding and absolutely worthy of the view that this has become one of the Glyndebourne classics. However, wonderful though the principals were, accompanied by the LPO on excellent form, in a highly musical and beautifully staged production, I was completely blown away by the power, precision and superb quality of the chorus - quite the best I have heard for many years. Congratulations!

Was quite bowled over. Am not opera-savvy but really enjoyed this. The 70-odd cast were costumed to perfection. No need for scenery.

I have returned 2 Standing tickets to the Box Office for tomorrow's performance, May 28. If you are still looking, try calling tomorrow?
We saw Sunday's performance - beautiful!

We enjoyed Sunday's Eugen Onegin very much! Especially the staging was just wonderful. A perfect idea the working with the curtains. I hope one can see this production again some time, I already look to this!

Sunday's performance was flawless and amazingly on this soggy cold bank holiday we had a warm dry evening to go with it. Most memorable.

This is one of my favourite operas, I liked the production when I saw it on TV back in 1994 and bought the video later, so I was very pleased to get a ticket for last Thursday's performance and I like it even better now than I did originally. This is my favourite of all the productions I have ever seen of this opera, including three different ones dssat the ROH over the last 21 years.

An earlier commenter remarks about the lack of scenery, but I do not need a lot of elaborate and fussy scenery which can sometimes just be a distraction from the action. The costumes are lovely and of an appropriate period, and that matters more to me, and all the performers were excellent.

A marvellous and hugely enjoyable production - but why omit omit that wonderful Ecossaise in the last act?

Having seen this production before I knew what to expect so bought quite a lot of tickets. Not disappointed. First night glorious but I did feel last night Mr Bondarenko needs to avoid forcing his voice in the last act. He produces a lovely sound except when putting his voice under unnecessary pressure. But my main problem last night was that I had an inexpensive seat in a side box. This meant I had the conductor and orchestra in full view. On this form they were severely distracting my attention away from the stage! Mr Wellber seems to me to be in the same class as the young Karajan. He conducts without a score and obviously knows every note. If Glyndebourne had not signed Ticciati this man would have been perfect. Please invite him back soon.

Outstanding performance on opening night made it a memorable evenin

I've been to Glyndebourne squillions of times. But this is my all-time favourite production. I I take my friends, who have not been to the opera before, to see this work whenever I can. It was the first opera I ever saw back in 1976 - with that dazzling singer, Linda Esther Gray, who, sadly, had a short career. I will never forget it. This particular production is intelligently produced and appropriately situated. Dramatic, touching, charming, and glorious to look at. To have ballet dancers in the Polonaise is a surprising masterstroke and builds us up before we are knocked down again by the emotional drama that follows. Every time I have seen this production it has been as thrilling as it has been heart-rending. Can't wait to see it again on Sunday - when I am taking someone to the opera for the first time.

An all time classic production wonderfully revived. What else to say?

We really enjoyed Onegin last night. Just a pity that various members of the LPO
walk in and out of the pit throughout the evening. We could clearly see a flautist
coming and going. Why can't they remain seated?

Excellent production of great clarity and insight, and wonderful singing. But oh, the litter left on the Champagne lawn at the end of the evening by certain diners! Please people, take it home!

I can confirm the £50 tickets were there. I bought one. But they sold fast. It appears that the website continues to show the low priced tickets while they are in someone's basket but not yet paid for. Thus you get the caption 'tickets £50 to £165' but when you proceed to the day in question to reserve there are no £50 tickets there. I find midday a good time to look for tickets, just after the Glyndebourne staff have finished dealing with the previous night's emails. It was the booking office staff who alerted me to that.

Looking at the pictures from the production it appears that the director forgot to appoint a set designer!

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