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Eugene Onégin

By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

15,16,18,19 May 2007
Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Set on Larina’s country estate in nineteenth century Imperial Russia, the opera, based on a poem by Pushkin, tells the story of her two daughters, Olga and Tatyana. Their romantic involvement with Eugene Onégin and Vladimir Lenski, two well-to-do gentlemen, leads to brief happiness followed by distress, heartache and, eventually, a death. Subsequently the action moves to the capital, St. Petersburg, six years later where Onégin reaps the reward for his previously cruel behaviour. The music of Tchaikovsky expresses the intensity of the romance and captures brilliantly the atmosphere of both provincial and cosmopolitan Russia.

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Cast

Larina (a landed proprietress)

Carol Costello

Tatyana (Larina’s daughter)

Diane Peacock

Olga (Larina’s daughter)

Catherine Thornton

Filipevna (a waiting woman)

Maggy Lamb

Eugene Onégin

David Hall

Lenski

Karl Reiff

Prince Gremin

Tom Forrest

A Captain

Alan Mueller

Saretzki

Steve Griffiths

Triquet (a Frenchman)

Clive Goodhead

Gillot (a manservant)

Mike Painter

 

Musical Director – Alasdair Jamieson

Director – Clive Marshall

 

Set Design – John Soper

Costume Design – Maggie Soper

 

Reviews

‘York Opera in “Eugene Onégin’ – The Press, Thursday 17 May, 2007

It is a widespread misconception that great opera only works well on big stages.

Grand gestures, in other words, demand a Royal Opera House. Clive Marshall's new production for York Opera admirably proves the opposite. Onegin is not one of Tchaikovsky's more sympathetic heroes. He is a snobbish cad who tries to remedy his mistake by luring his target into adultery. Rejected by Tatyana, who had earlier fallen for him head over heels and been despised, he gets a taste of his own medicine. So good triumphs. But this is also a narrative bound up with emotional niceties.

In the close confines of the Rowntree, albeit with an orchestra under Alasdair Jamieson necessarily scaled down to 18 players, we not only hear almost every word of the English translation. It is a tribute to Diane Peacock's handling of the role that we also share Tatyana's feelings to a quite remarkable extent.Her off-stage opening does her no favours. In any case the opening scene rambles. But she recovers quickly. Her pacing through the letter scene is masterly, as the lovelorn ingénue gradually whips herself into a lather of excitement. She is the perfect wallflower at her name-day party. But in her final confrontation with Onegin, as she nearly topples to his pleas, she really bares her soul.

David Hall brings a pleasing baritone to Onegin. He might define his character a little more boldly at the start, but he really comes to life in Act 3 and even conjures sympathy. Karl Reiff's hotheaded Lenski achieves an elegiac calm just before the duel that ends his life. Catherine Thornton's flighty, appealing Olga, Maggy Lamb's motherly Filipevna and Tom Forrest's properly conventional Gremin, not to mention Clive Goodhead's parody-French Triquet, add further colour.

The chorus sings firmly, but is inclined to fidget. The dancing, albeit difficult on this stage, is sometimes dodgy. But Maggie Soper's period costumes compensate, and John Soper's sets make a virtue of simplicity, corn stalks in the country, gold drapes in town. Considering its size, the orchestra works wonders, the woodwinds particularly. Jamieson's beat is clear, if not always observed on stage. But the overall achievement proves that small can be beautiful indeed.

Martin Dreyer

                                                                                                                                     




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