I have just watched a recording of Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin, performed by Garsington Opera. Eugene Onegin is one of my favourite operas by one of my favourite composers. Great music, dancing, action and a powerful storyline. There is a bit of Pride and Prejudice around, though there is no happy ending here. Impetuousness and unrequited love dominate the tale, with a nice turn of revenge to end with.
My first encounter with this opera was via a DVD of the 1988 film version by Peter Weikl. This was filmed on location in the then Czechoslovakia. It is unusual in that the music and singing were recorded in a studio by professional singers with George Solti conducting the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. On the other hand the filming took place on location with Czech actors performing the roles, lip-synching the recorded singing. Visually stunning this was a good introduction to the opera.
The other performance I remember was from the Met a couple of years ago, in one of their live relays. The was a new production by Deborah Warner and featured Anna Netrebko as Tatiana and Mariusz Kwiecien as Onegin. Very good performance and production.
Michael Boyd’s Garsington Opera version is more than a match for these two. It has a small, intimate, minimalist stage, which is enhanced for the final act by the introduction of giant mirrors. Very effective. The whole cast is very good and the two principals are wonderful. Roderick Williams is a severe but very human Onegin. The revelation was Natalya Romaniv as Tatiana. Excellent vocally, she also convincingly conveyed Tatiana’s changing emotions, often with her facial expressions alone.
This production ran in June and July this year. But luckily you can watch a video recording for free for the next six months. It is available on two platforms. One is the BBC which you can access here. The other is the Opera Platform, which you can access here. The Opera Platform shows video recordings of productions from some of the best known opera houses in Europe. They are usually available for six months.