"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.
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Supported by Lord and Lady Laidlaw
A revival of the 1994 Festival production
Sung in Russian with English supertitles
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.
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.
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.
Conductor Omer Meir Wellber
Director Graham Vick
Designer Richard Hudson
Choreographer Ron Howell
Lighting Designer Matthew Richardson
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
“…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