Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Recorded at the 2007 Salzburg Festival, this production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin features an excellent, young cast and the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim. Director Andrea Breth has created an intimate production that mines the depths of expression and charisma of her singer-actors and integrates silent secondary episodes and miniature dramas to heighten the intensity of the story. The title role--a tour de force for any baritone--is taken by Peter Mattei, who starred as Figaro in the Metropolitan Opera's HD Live Broadcast of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He is joined by dazzling young Russian soprano Anna Samuil, a protégée of Daniel Barenboim who has been acclaimed as a vibrant new presence on the opera stage. The opera includes a wonderful performance from the young tenor, Joseph Kaiser, recently acclaimed for perfomances at The Met opposite Anna Netrebko in Roméo et Juliette, as well as a solid contribution from bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. The DVD has been filmed in HD, with 5.1 DTS surround sound and PCM stereo.
Top customer reviews
Anna Samuil as Tatyana and Joseph Kaiser as Lensky give solid performances, but you can't help but notice that they are simply not in the same league as Peter Mattei, not yet at least. I sincerely wish them both successful careers. Ferruccio Furlanetto is a luxury as Gremin.
I can't say that I like the sets very much. There is wheat growing inside(?) Larin's house, then there are puddles on the floor everywhere during the ball at Tatyana's birthday (why?). Women's chorus ("Devizy, krasavizy...") sewing some bandages as in Chinese sweatshop (why?) All these rotating elaborative scenery is completely unnecessary. Interaction between main characters, that's what matters. And here the director Andrea Breth should be given a full credit. All the key scenes are staged brilliantly; you can't help but get back to them over and over.
Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim sounds terrific for most of the time. However, it seems like he drowned singers in climaxes on purpose several times, just to show them `who is the man', which is, in mine opinion, simply inexcusable.
I can't wait to see Peter Mattei live as Onegin in the fall/winter of 2013 at the Met, along of Marina Poplavskaya and Rollando Villazon. More glamorous trio of Mariusz Kwiecien/Anna Netrebko/Piotr Beczala are chosen as a `first cast' and their performance will be transmitted Live in HD. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they will do a great job. But Peter Mattei's second to none Onegin will not be recorded at the Met, so this DVD will likely to remain the only recording of this great artist in one of his signature roles.
Onegin is essence of the Russian soul and this production completely negates that. Musically strong, theatrically a disaster.
There's not a thing wrong with strong willed directors, but when the will of the director ignores what is happening in the music and imposes his or her will OVER what the director intends - then I have a problem. And I had a lot of problems here.
As terrific as Anna Samuil is in the Letter Scene, dramatically there was something lacking - something in need of tightening up - not on the heroine's part, but on the director's. The decision to not have her in pajamas or a nightgown proved, for me at least, a seemingly inconsequential, but ultimately glaring mistake. Breth has already made us aware this Tatyana is no shrinking violet - is, in fact, a strong willed (and slightly spoiled), young woman. But she's still a girl and we need SOME vulnerability and there was next to none found here. Despite Samuil's lovely shaded singing, magnificent lighting (car lights shining through the woods and windows) . . . despite incredible stage machinery rotating the sets showing Tatyana tearing through the house and out into the woods with what can only be described as "love fever," we do not quite get (or at least I did not get) the sense that her epistle to Mr. O was particularly difficult, much less an all night vigil. Even having her remain in the same jeans for several days didn't really convey that. There absolutely MUST be the element of the girl's restlessness, of her insomnia, of night passing into day and it could have been as easily remedied by giving the gal a goddamned nightgown. Having her sit, pensive, noisily pecking away at a typewriter was for me a rather novel idea - just not a particularly good dramatic one. Just me I guess.
Earlier on, in one of the very best, liveliest,and most infectious peasant choruses in all of opera, the Larin servants, farmhands and neighbors perform it motionless as a chorus of automatons arranged properly in concert formation, faces stripped of any emotion as we watch the ghastly attired Madam Larina (her hair in curlers no less) frolicking with a pair of moppets (and nearly showing us her "business" in the process).
Peter Mattei (one of my favorite baritones) makes Onegin entirely unappealing, eliciting almost no sympathy for his plight. Onegin already IS somewhat unappealing, but to burden him now with a jaded, been-there-done-that playboy attitude misses Onegin's point entirely. To Mattei's credit he sounds terrific and follows, to the letter, his directress's whims turning a melancholy, ennui-ridden young man into a mean-spirited, selfish and arrogant prick. Great.
Much was been made about Breth's total transformation of Madame Larina and it's true: few characters have morphed so entirely as the Larin girls' mama. Instead of a kindly, pensive disillusioned, broken-dreamed, still elegant and intelligent woman we're given a gaudy, shrewish, manipulative, self-obsessed cow. Wonderful.
I also had to scratch my head at the rambunctious, drunk fest that took the place of Tatyana's name day celebration. Do people really find this that innovative? Does this add anything at all to the drama? I don't think so.
And speaking of parties and celebrations, I will NOT apologize for finding the current directorial fad of removing the Third Act Polannaise to be a mistake. It is, in fact one of the most yawn-inducing clichés perpetuated upon the world of opera in the last decade. And there have been a lot. (Oddly, Carsen's re-working of it for the Met, is the only example of where it worked. All others, including this one, fail miserably in my opinion). Breth here makes a little joke: Ha ha! I'm going out on a limb here, but in, say, 20 years or so some hot shot Austrian playwright making his operatic debut in Onegin will DARE to place the women into Empire gowns, the men in tails and fill the stage with gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers as couples elegantly glide round the stage in sophisticated choreographed formations and the audience drop their jaws thinking "My, God! It's almost as though this music was MADE for this!"
Sorry to spoil the party that everyone else enjoyed (I guess I'm just a bad guest!) but it felt to me that Breth was trying hard to make Onegin an intense, unsettling, brooding dark opera, a statement on class distinctions and society - as well as on boredom and honor. The problem is Tchaikovsky already did that and what I feel was chiefly achieved here was merely an accentuation of the ugliness of these characters . . . and unattractive costumes.
I was amazed by Martin Zehetgruber's elaborate sets - magnificent in every regard - and I would love to see another stab at this Onegin as despite how I may come off here, I think Breth has some very good ideas: the portrayal of this matriarchal society; the Larina disdain for peasants and workers; Madame Larina's sheering the men like sheep; the contrast between the "old ways" still being hung to by Filipevna with the new world ideas of Madame L.; the disdain and boredom of the strong-willed Tatyana (having Filipevna die, unnoticed by the girl she did everything for, chilling . . . brilliant); the duel - heartbreaking; the blazing intensity of the final scene - there is plenty of good stuff here, I just found it all didn't come together for me as for everyone else.
With so much attention lavished on the principal pair of non-lovers, the majority of characters almost fade which is a shame. Joseph Kaiser is charmingly idealistic at Lensky.
Musically, Daniel Barenboim gives one of the most frenetic, violent readings of this score - make that THE most violent reading of the score anyone has probably ever heard - the tensions at times are almost unbearable. Unfortunately, regardless of what anybody else has written (maybe they were swept away by the passion) it was a sloppy, inelegant reading from the Vienna Philharmonic, with intonation problems, rifts between stage and pit, uneven entrances from the orchestra itself (a lot of this). It is thrilling, in that way surviving a ride on a high speed, broken rollercoaster is thrilling - but I'm pretty sure I'd never want to get on again.
There is clearly an audience for this - and I will try to come back to it, but I can think of a half dozen other "Onegins" on DVD (more if you add pirates) that are ultimately far more satisfying: particularly Graham Vick's production for Glyndebourne; and Robert Carsen's minimalist, brilliant production for the Metropolitan Opera.
Most recent customer reviews
Version innovative, modern.Read more
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Look for similar items by category
- CDs & Vinyl > Classical
- CDs & Vinyl > Opera & Classical Vocal
- Movies & TV > Fully Loaded DVDs > DTS
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Arts & Entertainment
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Music Videos & Concerts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Special Interests
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Opera
- Movies & TV > TV