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Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin / Fleming, Vargas, Hvorostovsky, Gergiev, Carsen [Metropolitan Opera 2007]

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Renée Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky triumph in Tchaikovsky's operatic masterpiece Eugene Onegin, filmed live at the Metropolitan Opera. Their onstage chemistry, emotional singing and outstanding acting make this a very special production. Valery Gergiev, Russia's greatest living conductor, leads Russia's classic opera, with a thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's most intense and passionate score. Robert Carsen's evocative staging is striking and beautiful and highlights the personal drama at the heart of Pushkin's tragic tale of young love unrequited. The opera is introduced on this DVD by the great Russian dancer Mikhail Barishnikov. DVD extras include: Eugene Onegin "In Rehearsal," and "Backstage at The Met," a short documentary presented by Beverly Sills, who talks in person to Fleming and Hvorostovsky about the opera and their working relationship. Filmed in Hi-Definition Widescreen.

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This set, filmed at the Metropolitan Opera's February 2007 performances of Tchaikovsky's most popular opera, has just about everything going for it: an all-star cast in peak form, a great orchestra led by today's leading Russian conductor, and a striking stage production whose minimalist, often stark, sets manage to superbly suit this most Romantic of operas.

Drawn from Pushkin's classic, the opera tightly focuses on the story of Tatiana, a naive young girl who declares her love for a dashing rake (Onegin) who rejects her overtures. His arrogance surfaces leads to flirting with his best friend's fiancée and then to killing him in a duel. Plagued by remorse, a superficially reformed but still impossibly self-centered Onegin meets Tatiana at a ball, but now the childish country bumpkin is the glamorous wife of a Prince. He declares his love but she rejects him and leaves him alone, a solitary, tragic figure.

Renée Fleming's Tatiana is a triumph, her gorgeous soprano voice, intense acting and precise characterization make the complex young woman come alive. Her "Letter Scene," in which the singer must reveal the innermost thoughts of a confused soul, is as good as it gets, as Fleming fully reveals the young woman's joyous hopes of requited love and also her fears of rejection. In the final act, she's still attracted to the dashing Onegin but resolved to preserve her marriage. In the title role, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is her equal; his firm baritone fits the music like a velvet glove and his acting matches Fleming's in its intensity. He's especially fine in his last-act monologue, bursting with despair and passion. Tchaikovsky gave the work's most beautiful arias to Lenski, Onegin's friend. Ramon Vargas' mellifluous tenor is well-suited to the lyricism of Lenski's Act One love aria and to the poignant aria before his duel with Onegin. Lenski's anger at his friend in the ball scene is palpably menacing. As Olga, Tatiana's high-spirited sister and Lenski's fiancée, Elena Zaremba is fully up to the rest of the cast, her rich mezzo and pointed phrasing a strong point. Sergei Aleksaskin's Prince Gremin is a dignified presence, Larisa Schevchenko as Tatiana's old nurse is convincing, and the smaller roles are well sung and acted. Jean-Paul Fouchécourt is not only in excellent voice in the beautiful aria of Triquet, Tatiana's French tutor, but manages to invest his song with an apt touch of parody as well. Valery Gergiev's conducting is a major asset, and the MET Orchestra is in terrific form, with special kudos due to the soulful clarinet solos that are so important in the musical texture.

Producer Robert Carson imbues the work with Romantic glow and Michael Levine's spare sets are far more effective than one might think. The stage is strewn with leaves and framed by textured rods doing duty as birch trees in Act One; the ball scene similarly framed by a rectangle of chairs and side tables, both sets analogues for the character's imprisonment in their unbridled emotions. Video director Brian Large keeps his cameras well-focused on the action, to complete an Onegin that's the DVD version to get. --Dan Davis

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Renee Fleming, Ramon Vargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Valery Gergiev, Jean-Paul Fouchecourt
  • Directors: Brian Large, Robert Carsen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Live, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Russian, French, English
  • Subtitles: English, German, Italian, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Russian, French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000YCLRBA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,066 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin / Fleming, Vargas, Hvorostovsky, Gergiev, Carsen [Metropolitan Opera 2007]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 145 people found the following review helpful By C. Boerger on November 25, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Anyone making a short list of the all time greatest operas needs to give serious consideration to Eugene Onegin. Not only is this opera filled with beautiful melodies, it also contains a very dramatic story told episodically, almost as a tableaux of grand scenes. The story is unconventional in that the lovers never get together because they are never on the same page romantically, initially he is too mature for her, then, later, ironically, when he finally becomes interested, she is too mature for him. There is death in this opera, but the real tragedy of Eugene Onegin is the title character's self-centered, unfeeling hubris, and finally his regrets. All of this is expressed through music so achingly romantic it washes over the listener like a wave. Anyone who thinks Tchaikovsky was just a composer of pretty ballets has obviously never seen or heard Eugene Onegin.

I saw this production when it was broadcast to a local cineplex earlier this year. I was so enthralled and excited by what I had experienced(I was high on this performance for days!) that I have been anxiously waiting for it to be released on DVD ever since. The production itself isn't perfect, but the performances are(the Met repeats the success of its La Traviata of a few years ago by reuniting the same three leads with the same conductor), and the result is a Eugene Onegin whose like we are unlikely to see again, at least during my lifetime.

The leads could not be more ideally cast. Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky are what is popularly referred as the complete package, a combination of knockout looks, intelligence, charisma, dramatic ability, oh, and did I forget to mention vocal talent?
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Doug Urquhart on January 10, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My wife and I watched this performance from the Grand Tier. At the time, we agreed that the staging and performance were superb, and the cameras were unobtrusive, but thought that some of the performances, notably that of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, were a tad 'wooden'.

A few months later, we saw the broadcast performance, and were very pleasantly surprised. Hvorostovsky's performance was far from wooden: with the benefits of the TV camera, we could see every subtle nuance, every expression, every gesture. His was a performance of the highest standard. Bravo!

And here we find one of the differences between televised and live performances - the camera can pick up subtleties which just aren't visible from the back of the theatre (and exaggerate 'operatic acting'as it happens). True, watching a live performance has other advantages - the ambience, the freedom to choose what you want to look at, people-watching, the champagne during the intervals....

In the past, there have been other differences - poor direction, inadequate sound, extraneous noise, but this is no longer an issue. This Brian Large production is basically superb! Picture quality is excellent, reflecting the clever lighting effects on stage. Sound is crystal clear, with enough resolution to distinguish individual applause (ours must have been in there somewhere, I suppose). This recording, in many respects, is even better than the 'real thing'.

Putting technicalities to one side, the production itself was of the highest calibre. All the singers, without exception, were at the top of their form. Aria after aria ended in thunderous applause. Gergiev was amazing, extracting every ounce of emotion from Tchaikowsky's music.

The minimalist sets were, I thought, very clever.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By An Opera Fan on February 26, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having seen this production at the MET and HD transmission to the movies, this DVD is outstanding in every way and highly recommended as a worthy addition to your collection. For those who have seen the production at the MET, it will enhance your enjoyment of the individual performances with close-ups of facial expressions of singers and other interesting nuances and other little amusing things you might have missed if you were seated far from the stage. This DVD is specially beneficial to those seeing this opera for the first time because of the elimination of extraneous and distracting things, which allows you to focus on the dramatic and musical inputs of the protagonists more clearly.

Having seen conventional, lavish productions of this opera in major houses, I had some apprehensions at first about how Act 3 would turn out stripped of the customary depiction of the opulence and splendor of St. Petersburg in Pushkin's time. With bare walls and just a few nice chairs around, the fantastic lighting effects and elegant coustumes made a big difference and saved this production from getting too "eurotrashy".

For me, the most important achievement of this production is the righting of the unfair characterization by critics, past and present, of the role of the poet Lenski as the "weakest link" among the principals. From the very first time I saw this opera, I have always felt that Lenski's music was the most beautiful in the opera and that Tchaikovsky identified more with Lenski's creative nature. So, why the "weakest link" tag ? This production provided the answer! That's why this minimalist ONEGIN is particularly helpful to first timers to the opera.
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Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin / Fleming, Vargas, Hvorostovsky, Gergiev, Carsen [Metropolitan Opera 2007]
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