Opera (lyrical scenes) in 3 acts and a Prologue
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky
based on the eponymous novel in verse by Alexander Pushkin
World premiere: 17 March 1879, Maly Theatre, Moscow
Premiere at the Astana Opera House: 8, 9 February 2019
Conductor: Alan Buribayev, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan,
Laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Director, Set Designer: Davide Livermore
Set Designer: Francesco Calcagnini
Costume Designers: Sofya Tasmagambetova, Pavel Dragunov
Chorus Master: Yerzhan Dautov, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan
Choreographer: Elena Sherstneva
Lighting Designer: Vincenzo Raponi
Assistant Directors: Giancarlo Judica Cordiglia, Anja Rudak / Yerenbak Toikenov
Assistant Costume Designer: Natalia Fedorova
Technical Project Manager: Victor Carare
Video Projection: D-WOK Srl
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (including two intervals)
Performed in Russian
(with synchronised Kazakh and English supertitles)
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O memory of heart! you’re stronger
Than reminiscence of cool mind
The great love Tatyana dreamed of in her youth and for which she so much longed and waited found no reciprocal feeling. Now, in her declining years, this desire for love continues to live in her being, evoking faces, places and experiences from the past.
Scene 1. The Larins’ estate.
Tatyana and Olga’s singing, Madame Larina’s daughters, make her reminisce about her youth. Peasants, who have gathered the harvest in, according to the old tradition, come to their lady of the manor to wish abundance and well-being for the next year.
Singing and dancing peasants amuse Olga, while Tatyana is lost in reverie – she is worried about the fate of lovers from the novel.
Suddenly, guests arrive. Olga’s fiancé Vladimir Lensky introduces his friend Eugene Onegin, whose appearance awakens deep excitement in Tatyana’s soul.
Happy Lensky, left alone with Olga, declares his love for her.
Scene 2. Tatyana’s letter
Tatyana is overwhelmed by a new, previously not familiar to her feeling. Seeing her confusion, the nurse tries to distract and comfort her darling girl. Left alone, after much hesitation, Tatyana writes a letter to Onegin, professing her love for him. At dawn, she asks the nurse to deliver it to her new acquaintance.
Scene 3. Explanation
Tatyana waits anxiously for a reply. But instead of writing, Onegin himself arrives. He admits that Tatyana’s candour has touched him, but he is unable to return her love.
Scene 4. Ball at the Larins’ house
Numerous guests came to Tatyana’s name-day party. The provincial ball with chitchatting and gossiping of ordinary people irritate Onegin. He is angry with Lensky, who invited him here, and begins demonstratively paying court to Olga. Enraged by his friend’s behavior, Lensky starts a quarrel and challenges Onegin to a duel.
Scene 5. Duel
With anguish and pain, Lensky reflects on his life while waiting for his rival. Onegin arrives. He understands his guilt, and Lensky is willing to reconcile, but fallacious laws of honour make the duel inevitable. A shot rang out. Lensky is killed.
Scene 6. Ball in St. Petersburg
After a long absence, Onegin has returned to the capital. At the ball, he meets Tatyana. He is astonished at the change in her: she is now a socialite, the wife of Prince Gremin, full of nobility and dignity. Onegin anxiously admits to himself that “he is in love, like a boy, full of the youthful passion”.
Scene 7. Meeting
Onegin manages to arrange a meeting with Tatyana. He sounds repentant. Demanding reciprocity, he hears a declaration of love in return. But Tatyana’s decision to remain faithful to her husband forever is irrevocable! Onegin is in despair…
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Dramaturgical Notes by Davide Livermore
I often reflect on the future fate of heroes and heroines of the operas: what will happen to Rodolfo after Mimi’s death in La bohème, what destiny awaits Alfredo after Violetta’s passing in La traviata, and what other truths the Yurodiviy in Boris Godunov would have revealed… And, of course, I ask myself whether Tatyana recollected Onegin before dying so that to re-live the love story, which left an indelible mark on her soul.
I like asking myself these questions, as they often help me to show on stage the delightful plots that have been existing in the world of opera for centuries, and to implement these plots in order to comprehend them, then quietly leave and move on.
The production of the opera Eugene Onegin, which I have the honour to create at the Astana Opera House, implies the presence of the old Tatyana, who has to live through her memories one more time to free her life from the tragedy of the unrequited love: she again sees herself in her youth when she only began to experience love and suffering. The young Tatyana, whose image was created by Pushkin and Tchaikovsky, will bring us back to her youth; she will again meet her Eugene and will again decide to remain faithful to her spouse Gremin. I also represent Tatyana in the last minutes of her life, longing to return to the years when Onegin disturbed her dreams and she wrote to him a letter declaring her love for him.
I often think about people whom I loved and whom I saw dying. I hold them in my heart and I believe that each of them had a story that was not resolved to the end, which could become an obstacle for the soul on its last path to the Light – the path that you need to set off on light, leaving all the earthly on Earth. I think about people who are dear to me and hope that they lived through everything in their mind and heart (with joy or pain) again and became aware of weaknesses and passions, so that, having renounced them, to leave easily like Tatyana free in her movement to the last border.