TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Eugene Onegin (Salzburg Festival, 2007)

TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: Eugene Onegin (Salzburg Festival, 2007)


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- (Disc 1)
Eugene Onegin, Op. 24
Libretto/Text Author: Shilovsky, Konstantin
Libretto/Text Author: Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich

Eugene Onegin: Mattei, Peter

Set/Stage Designer: Zehetgruber, Martin
Costume Designer: Weeger, Marc
Costume Designer: Willrett, Silke
Lighting Designer: Rom, Friedrich
Stage Director: Breth, Andrea
Television Director: Large, Brian

Date of Production: 2007
Festival: Salzburg Festival
Venue: Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg
Playing Time: 02:37:43
Catalogue Number: A04001505


Tchaikovsky is best known for his symphonic scores and ballets such as the Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Yet his operas also occupy a place of honor in his oeuvre, and two of them, Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades, both based on novels by Pushkin, are among his very finest works.

The plot of Onegin is quickly told: on a Russian country estate, awkward, inexperienced young Tatyana is seized by a sudden passion for the handsome, blase new neighbor Eugene Onegin. She writes him a love letter, but he makes it clear to her that he is not interested. Later, when Tatyana's sister flirts with Onegin, her fiancé challenges him to a duel and is killed. Years later, Onegin returns, finds that Tatyana has married an aged prince, and tries to win her back but fails. Tchaikovsky called his opera a sequence of "lyric scenes." Its structure prefigures narrative techniques that later came into use in cinema, such as abrupt cuts and chronological leaps, intimate close-ups, and atmospheric interjections. Bearing this practically cinematic structure in mind, director Andrea Breth has produced an intimate chamber play that mines the depths of veracity, precision and charisma of her singer-actors. The stage suggests both the concrete location of the action as well as the psychological condition of those driving the action forward.

The title role is a tour de force for any baritone, who must walk a tightrope between cynical, insufferable snob and sympathetic, broken-hearted lover. This is carried off superbly by Peter Mattei, who "has acquired a fabulous vocal profile and is a gifted actor blessed with debonair self-confidence" (Peter Hagmann, Neue Zurcher Zeitung). But the true hero of the opera is Tatyana, a multi-layered, conflicted, driven, doubt-ridden heroine. As portrayed by the dazzling Russian soprano Anna Samuil, this Tatyana "is ready to start a revolution" (Julia Spinola, F.A.Z.). Since her 2003 debut in the West and her appearance as Musetta (La Boheme) at the Met alongside Anna Netrebko, Anna Samuil – a protegee of Daniel Barenboim – has been acclaimed as a vibrant new voice on the operatic stage. Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic accompany these "scenes of a marriage that could have been" with beguilingly dark sonorities that allow for brilliant flashes of light from the winds and waves of passionate lyricism in the third act.

Part 1

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