Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
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This staging, by Robert Carsen, of Tchaikovsky's popular romantic opera was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide from the Metropolitan Opera to great critical acclaim in February 2007. Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky star as the doomed lovers in Pushkin's tragic tale of unrequited love and their onstage chemistry made for some rave reviews. Valery Gergiev, widely considered to be Russia's greatest living conductor, leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
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the superb score by the composer makes it his most beloved composition.
Alexander Puskin's poem is a revered classic of Russian literature. Unfortunately, I can't read Russian and therefore have no idea how closely or amply the opera libretto by Tchaikovsky and Shilovsky represents the poem. The libretto is stock Victorian melodrama. That doesn't, of course, distinguish it from many other popular 19th and early 20th C operas, most of which depend on passionate music to rescue their stories from banality.
Is Tchaikovsky's music passionate enough? Forgive me, dear reader, but to my ears it's mere humdrum bandshell Heldenwhoopy. The only portion of the opera that affects me emotionally is the soliloquy of the poet Lenski as he confronts his almost-certain death in a duel with his "friend" Onegin. Lenski is another Romantic caricature, a fool but a likable one. The role is sung and acted, on this DVD, by Ramón Vargas; both acting and singing are superb enough to justify the whole 156 minutes of the production. It's the singing and acting that earn my five-star rating of the DVD, rather than the opera per se. Dmitri Hvorostovsky is the very avatar of the arrogant selfish Onegin. Renée Fleming makes herself believable both as the puppy-love provincial maiden Tatiana and as the mature self-dominating faithful wife Tatiana. Extraordinary singing can redeem almost any mawkish text.
And the "film" is beautiful. Fleming and Hvorostovsky are sensual bliss in close-ups. The "sets" are utterly minimal -- a floor covered with scattered autumn leaves, bare walls, a few chairs -- but perfectly conceived to frame the gorgeous costumes, expressive faces, and well-directed choreography of the singer-actors' movements. The color coordination, from the lush orange and auburn of the first act to the brooding blues and somber blacks of later scenes, seems more artful to my eyes than any amount of costly clutter.
I know this is an ambivalent review. But it's sincere. Eugene Onegin is a perennial favorite of opera audiences. There must be something more to the music than my ears perceive. Conductor Valery Gergiev can't be held accountable for my taste; he elicits very fine instrumental timbres and tight ensemble from the Met Opera Orchestra. If you consider yourself - in your madness - a "serious opera lover," Eugene Onegin is an opera you must hear and see at least once, and this is as artful a performance of it as anyone could demand.
It is very nice to watch a DVD with beautiful scenery; but it is also true that you can get distracted, that is why even the scenography was very simple, I was more focused on the artist's performance, there singing, and acting, and also the drama, for those reasons I enjoyed so much, the performance of all were super.
I brought Sir Georg Solti's' version a couple of years ago and the scenery was very beautiful, this is an "advance" when you make it as a movie, beside, the actors and singers were not the same. I took a while to decide to buy this version, and I am glad I bought this one, I like to see a DVD that the acting and singing were done by the same artists.
An other thing that I enjoyed were the lights , to put an example of the effect of these was the duel scene with the use of claroscuro that made so dramatic, as well as in other passages of the drama . The costumes were very beautiful and the sound wonderful.
This DVD was the first that I bought from the HD Metropolitan Performance series and of course I can see the difference in the images quality compared to other DVD.
This is an outstanding production.
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He is excellent in this performance and all opera lovers should mourn his untimely death.Read more