Eugene Onegin

Glyndebourne Onegin: a sight for sore eyes

Room in the Winter Palace St Petersburg, detail

Room in the Winter Palace St Petersburg, detail

By way of stark contrast from the harsh ‘realities’ of Manon Lescaut or the confused banalities of Maria Stuarda, Glyndebourne offered the restrained and sensitive beauties of its production of Eugene Onegin. It was a sight for sore eyes.

The production is 20 years old this year, debuting at Glyndebourne in 1994, and its muted colours, emphasis on character-driven drama and exuberant dance interludes wear well. For a restricted view seat holder (in the Upper Circle Slips) the emphasis on use of the sides and rear of the stage can be a little frustrating, but you pays your money and takes your chances to an extent. The graceful curtains that separate scenes and, in the final palace ballroom scene, create a subtly shifting and disjointed perspective, and effective. The simplicity of the rustic scenes are beautifully appropriate to their setting. The emphasis really is placed on the characters to push this relatively simple story forward, with the sets providing a straightforward context for the action. (more…)

Tardy thoughts: Parsifal and Eugene Onegin

With relative brevity, given the lack of currency, my thoughts on my last two musical outings: to the Met Parsifal, relayed (with some disappointment) to the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley; and before that to the last performance of the run of Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House, which was also not without its frustrations. 

The Met’s production seemed measured, expansive and non-intrusive.  The barren expanses of the outer acts were accompanied by massive projections of swirling, angry skies and mystical planets rising up from the horizon in the manner of Melancholia.  For the second act, Klingsor’s enchanted garden was a little less than enchanting, but taken on its own terms it was a relatively well executed confrontation, and the lake of blood soaking up the white shift-dresses of the Flowermaidens was a striking image. (more…)

Bolshoi at Covent Garden: Eugene Onegin

Well, it seems that Eugene Onegin is not a lucky opera for us.  Visits by Russian opera companies to Covent Garden don’t seem to come off altogether successfully, either…

We arrived at Covent Garden last night in good time, but both a bit weary after a week at work.  We had two Upper Slips tickets (on opposite sides so we could wave at each other across the void), and at quite an extreme angle to the stage (BB and DD 29 for those that know them).  We’ve had those sorts of Upper Slips before, and appreciate their limitations, but when it came to restricting the view, this production was something else. (more…)

Sometimes you don’t feel like commenting…

Well, here we are again.  Nearly a month since the last post and much operatic activity that has passed without comment.  What can I say?  My mind was elsewhere.

In short:  a fabulous Simon Boccanegra with Domingo; an excellent Salome with Angela Denoke; a so-so Traviata with a hyperactive Gheorghiu; and Hänsel und Gretel at Glyndebourne, not quite as good as the last outing. (more…)

Hungarian State Opera 2 of 2

Well, Sunday evening didn’t go quite according to plan.  Fresh from penning (typing) the last entry, we pottered about a bit, had a lie down to get a bit of energy and headed out for something to eat.  Unfortunately, the day’s exertions – if you can call them that – must have taken their toll, because we arrived at the opera house already quite tired.

There is a possibility that this influenced our enjoyment of Eugene Onegin.  We had good seats – for £10, very good seats – in the central block of the balcony.  If you are booking for the Hungarian State Opera House and are curious about the cheaper seats, I’d recommend that central block, but advise steering clear of the side views which are quite precipitous as well as becoming quite an extreme angle to the stage quite quickly as you progress around the horseshoe.  The sound from these seats was excellent and, indeed, had a most curious effect whereby for parts of the performance I genuinely thought the singers were amplified.  I think this was the effect of the deep proscenium which ensures that sound is channelled firmly in the audience’s direction, but anyway it was a good spot acoustically.

(more…)