by Willard Manus
Opera recently celebrated its 25th birthday by mounting a spirited production
of Tchaikovsky's EUGENE ONEGIN (first seen at London's Royal Opera in
2006). Adapted by Tchaikovsky from Alexander Pushkin's classic novel,
"Lyrical Scenes," EUGENE ONEGIN tells a story of unrequited,
tragic love set against the backdrop of a Russian country estate, circa
Rebuffed, he then makes a pass at Tatiana's silly sister, Olga (Ekaterina Semenchuk), thereby incurring the wrath of her husband and his best friend, the poet Lemsky (Vsevolod Grivnov). The insult leads to a pistol duel.
Tchaikovsky's music and text express his heartfelt compassion and sympathy for these characters whose lives have been wrecked by by wrong decisions in life. Their pain and torment are dramatized in stirring, full-throated fashion by the composer, whose musical genius is everywhere on display in this 3 1/2hr-long opera.
Conductor James Conlon and chorus master Grant Gershon contributed signicantly to the success of the production. Well-sung and acted, directed seamlessly by Francesca Gilpin (after Steven Pimlott), EUGENE ONEGIN got LA Opera's 2011/2012 season off to a rousing start.