Wow! Music from Tchaikovsky that I’d never heard before (I thought I knew most of his music!) and a play by Pushkin that became this fascinating opera. Plus a great baritone voice – Onegin – and lots of other great voices in the wonderful acoustics of Music Hall. The music in the first act sounded pastoral – pretty unTchaikovsky like. The second and third acts – all strings and lots of percussion – were the drama he favored.
The fact that Onegin was played by a baritone tells you that he’s not going to be a traditional hero. The starring male roles in opera are tenor – nearly 100%. The tenor ended up being the very nice guy whose temper led him to challenge his best friend, Onegin, to a duel. The tenor lost, big time. But it ruined Onegin’s life – he couldn’t commit to the woman who loved him, and he ended up traveling aimlessly. When he returns, she’s married to a Prince who adores her – and though she still loves Onegin, she is not going betray her husband.
Normally, I want to re-write these stories – for instance, I can’t tolerate Rome and Juliet. Why didn’t they just slip across the border of their town into the next principality and live happily ever after? But Onegin’s inability to be self-aware and consider other possibilities caused him to make many bad choices, and to value what wasn’t useful instead of what was.
I would re-write the duel scene, however. Maybe the guns could mis-fire, or a fog could descend on that cold morning. Or the guys could act like human beings, and find a way to collaborate, instead of arguing over the perceived ownership of a woman, who could not be owned in the first place.