Immortal melodies and heart-rending drama combine to open a window into the Russian soul. The first night, taken live from Komische Oper Berlin of Barrie Kosky’s eagerly-awaited new staging of Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera, promises a memorable occasion.
Pushkin’s verse novel EUGENE ONEGIN is one of the classics of Russian literature. Tchaikovsky was drawn to the story by the character of its heroine Tatjana, the shy young girl rejected in love who blossoms to become a Princess in Saint Petersburg. His opera captures the contrast with her fun-loving sister Olga, but also the rivalry between the romantic poet Lensky and his worldlier friend, the Byronic anti-hero Yevgeniy Onegin, which leads to the challenge and their fatal duel.
The opera conjures up an utterly believable world of real people, suffused with poignant memories of the lost happiness of youth. Tchaikovsky is the genius of dance music. In this opera he skilfully juxtaposes the choral harvest dance and the irresistible waltz of the country ball with the more formal polonaise and écossaise of Saint Petersburg’s grand salons.
Every Barrie Kosky première is an event, each full of surprises but all exhibiting his unique theatricality and flair, which resulted in Komische Oper Berlin winning the International Opera Award for Best Company in 2015.
This new YEVGENIY ONEGIN also offers an outstanding international cast led by the mesmeric Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian as Tatjana, Czech tenor Aleš Briscein as Lensky and German baritone Günter Papendell in the title role. It also showcases the strengths of the Komische Oper ensemble: its versatile chorus and orchestra and dancers under the baton of Music Director Henrik Nánási.