Sung in Russian with English surtitles
The performance is approximately 2 hours and 55 minutes, including two intermissions: Act 1 (70 minutes), 20-minute intermission, Act 2 (40 minutes), 15-minute intermission, Act 3 (30 minutes).
Drama, beauty, and romantic obsession – Tchaikovsky’s haunting opera has it all. A world-weary aristocrat grudgingly visits the provincial home of his friend's fiancée where he toys with the affections of the inexperienced, ardent Tatiana. Her love letter to the brooding Onegin results in a heartless rejection, setting off an inexorable chain of events culminating in a chilling duel. Years later, the tables are turned when the honourable Tatiana rejects him. Onegin is left crushed and filled with regret over the love he so casually spurned.
I’ve discovered an intriguing truth about the opera world: Everyone in this industry loves Eugene Onegin. Anyone who is seriously invested in opera seems to hold this work in great esteem. Since I took on this project a year ago, all my colleagues, without exception, swoon when I tell them I am working on it.
Why, you might wonder?
Music and love go hand in hand. The passion of love, in all its vicissitudes, is what this story is about. And no one articulates the dark ache of the unhappy soul better than the Russians!
Considered one of the great classics of Russian literature, its young author, Alexander Pushkin, died an untimely death at age 37 (interestingly enough from a duel, the 29 th he was involved in during his short life). That event was considered a catastrophe for Russian literature. In 1879 Maestro Tchaikovsky set it operatically with intoxicating magnificence. It is the dream of every singer (and conductor and director) to sink their teeth into it!
I am delighted to be making my debut both with this company and with Onegin. I am blessed with a first-class cast, many of them native Russian speakers, and creative partners in conductor James Meena, choreographer Brian Webb and lighting designer Geoff George. The company supports a vision of this opera, as you will see, that strips away many standard operatic trappings to get straight to the heart of this trusted and beloved story.
I am grateful for this ride and hope you feel gratified at the end of yours.
- Tom Diamond
James Meena consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium. The breadth of his conducting repertoire is captured in symphony, ballet and operatic works of Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Berlioz and Verdi, as well as contemporary composers Fazil Say, Carlisle Floyd and Canadian composer Victor Davies. Permanent posts have included resident conductor of the Toledo Symphony and Cleveland Ballet as well as principal conductor for Opera Carolina and Toledo Opera. James has appeared as a guest conductor for the Washington Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony, L'Opéra de Montréal, the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea, the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of China, the Pittsburgh Opera, the Cairo Philharmonic in Egypt, the orchestra of the Teatro Bellini in Catania, Sicily, and the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Florence, Italy.
Director Tom Diamond’s acclaimed productions include premieres of Chan Ka Nin’s Iron Road (Dora Award) and Timothy Sullivan’s Florence: the Lady with the Lamp (Chalmers Award), six productions for Pacific Opera Victoria and nine productions for the Canadian Opera Company. His production of Squonk was an off-Broadway hit which transferred to Broadway, where it won the American Theatre Wing’s Hewes Award. He has been the resident director/dramaturg at Tapestry New Opera for over a decade, where he has developed and staged many world premieres including Omar Daniel’s The Shadow and Andrew Staniland’s Dark Star Requiem. Mr. Diamond started 2013 directing a much-lauded new production of Handel's Xerxes at the prestigious Jacob’s School of Music/Indiana University. It can be seen its entirety on their website. Following Onegin he travels to Italy to stage his first Gianni Schicchi, followed by a Canadian tour of John Murrell’s dance drama Taj, starring Bollywood stars Kabir Bedi and Lisa Ray. The year concludes with his fifth production of Handel's Guilio Cesare, this time in Montreal. Tom is perhaps most often recognized for his participation in the Gemini Award-winning television series Bathroom Divas.
Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova has attracted universal attention for her outstanding musicianship and compelling stage presence, performing in many of the world’s greatest opera houses. Last season an acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut as Chloé in Pique Dame was followed by a celebrated return to the Glyndebourne Festival as Dvorák’s Rusalka (conducted by Sir Andrew Davis). Additional productions included Rusalka with Opéra de Montpellier under the baton of Lawrence Foster and Eugene Onegin for Opera Carolina. This season sees the soprano’s role debut as Lisa in concert performances of Pique Dame with the Sydney Symphony under Vladimir Ashkenazy, Desdemona (Otello) with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Lawrence Foster, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera in Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini under Marco Armiliato. As Tatiana (Eugene Onegin), Dina appears with the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev and with Edmonton Opera under James Meena.
Maria Kataeva finished her secondary-school musical studies with a focus on piano in 2002 and continued her musical education in the College of Arts in 2006 as a choir conductor. Maria received first prize at the Novosibirsk Conservatory voice competition in 2006 and Third International competition of children’s and youthful work in Odessa, Ukraine. She recently graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia. During her musical studies at the conservatory she also took part in joint projects with Rahvusooper Estonia and Pskov Philharmonic (Bizet’s Carmen), where she performed the title role. Currently Maria is a young artist at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where she performed Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), El Gato (El Gato con botas) and Beatrice (Le testament de la tante Caroline). She will join the Ensemble of Deutsche Oper am Rhein in the 2013/14 season.
Ilya Bannik was a finalist in the Operalia competition and in the Maria Callas International Voice Competition. Highlights in his repertoire include Samuel (Un ballo in Maschera), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Banquo (Macbetto), Oroveso (Norma), Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Mephistopheles (La Damnation de Faust), Prince Gremin (Eugene Onegin), Leporello (Don Giovanni) and Colline (La Bohème). He successfully made his debut for the Paris Opera (Salome and Idomeneo) and with Valencia Opera House and Teatro di Firenze in Das Rheingold. Recent engagements include War and Peace (Canadian Opera Company), Idomeneo (Paris), Faust (Den Norske Opera) and as Gremin in Eugene Onegin (Antwerp). In 2011, Ilya made his role and house debut as Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte, Seattle Opera). In 2012, he made his house debut at Vancouver Opera as Il Re in Aida. In future seasons he will sing Polkan (Golden Cockerel) and Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni) with Den Nye Opera.
Grammy nominee for “Semyo Kotko,” mezzo-soprano Olga Savova has emerged as a star of the Mariinsky Theatre. Shortly after she graduated with honours from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, she won a top prize in the Voci Verdiani International Voice Competition. Olga sang Brünnhilde opposite Plácido Domingo in a concert version of Die Walküre at Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, Poland. In Europe, Olga is regularly invited to sing lead roles from the Russian repertoire including Boris Godunov, Khovanshchina, Eugene Onegin, The Enchantress, The Snow Maiden, Queen of Spades, War and Peace and The Gambler. At the Metropolitan Opera, she has performed Lyubov in Mazeppa, Laura in La Gioconda, Hostess in Boris Godunov and Brünnhilde in Die Walküre. In 2009, Olga sang Azucena in Il Trovatore at Minnesota Opera. Recent engagements include Blanche in The Gambler at Gran Teatre del Liceu and Les Noces at the New York Philharmonic and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.
Bulgarian-born Canadian mezzo-soprano Emilia Boteva studied at the Bulgarian National Academy of Music in Sofia. An award winner at the Svetoslav Obretenov National Competition in Bulgaria and a finalist in the Toulouse International Vocal Competition, she made her professional debut at the State Opera House in Sofia. In Europe she has appeared with the opera companies of Bulgaria, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania and Macedonia. Fluent in Italian, English, Russian, French and Bulgarian, she has collaborated with important conductors including Maurizio Barbacini, Günter Neuhold and Roberto Rizzi Brignoli. Emilia was introduced to Canadian audiences by Opera Ontario singing Amneris in Aida under the baton of Maestro Daniel Lipton. Other recent engagements include Verdi’s Requiem with the Vancouver Symphony, Azucena in Il Trovatore for Manitoba Opera and Opera Hamilton, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff in Jerez, Spain, and as Mama Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana for Opera Lyra Ottawa.
Jon-Paul Décosse, “a powerful, full-throated bass-baritone” (Opera Canada), has been heralded for both his vocal and dramatic presentations in a variety of operatic and concert repertoire. During his final season as an Ensemble member for the Canadian Opera Company, he performed the roles of Sciarrone in Tosca, Don Juan in Janácek’s From the House of the Dead, and Pasquariello in Don Giovanni. Recent seasons have included Schaunard in La Bohème (Canadian Opera Company and Calgary Opera), Buonafede in Il Mondo Della Luna (Opera in Concert), Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Don Alfonso in the COC’s Ensemble production of Così fan tutte, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and Colline in La Bohème (Opera Hamilton and Edmonton Opera). Busy across Canada, Jon-Paul has appeared as Marullo in Rigoletto (Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestra London Canada), Thierry and the First Officer in Dialogues des Carmélites (Vancouver Opera), and Charles in Allan Bell’s Turtle Wakes (Calgary Opera).
A prize-winner in the Oratorio Society of New York competition, Stephen Hegedus has been featured with the symphonies in Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Edmonton, Victoria and San Antonio. Operatic credits include the title role in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile, and Opera Hamilton), Albert in Werther (Opéra de Montréal), Talbot in Maria Stuarda and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (Pacific Opera Victoria), Colline in La Bohème (Vancouver Opera) and Masetto in Don Giovanni (Orchestre Métropolitain du grand Montréal). He has appeared with Les Violons du Roy, the Grant Park Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Lanaudière Festival, the Brott Festival and the International Bach Festival in Toronto. He looks forward to appearances with the Elmer Iseler Singers, Chorus Niagara, the Winnipeg Symphony, I Musici de Montréal, the Victoria and Edmonton symphonies, Vancouver Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestre Symphonique de Québec. Stephen made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2009 singing Bach’s B-minor Mass with the Oratorio Society of New York.
Andrej Dunaev’s recent appearances at the Semperoper, Dresden, include Il Duca (Rigoletto), Alfredo (La Traviata), Rodolfo (La Bohème) and Tamino (Die Zauberflöte). He appeared as Lenski, his signature role, in the Bolshoi Theatre’s first new production of Eugene Onegin in 38 years, a production that was broadcast and cinecast internationally, and which continues to tour worldwide. He became the principal tenor member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein ensemble in 2005, where he remained for several seasons, appearing in leading roles for productions of Così fan tutte, Macbeth, Nabucco, L’elisir d’amore, Otello and Lucia di Lammermoor. Further engagements have taken him to Oper Frankfurt, Oper Graz, Opéra National de Paris, La Scala and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin. He recently made a successful debut as Des Grieux, (Manon) at Theatre Basel.
Geoff is pleased to be returning to the Edmonton Opera. His work has been seen on this stage for Pirates of Penzance, La Bohème and last year's The Mikado. Beginning his career as a lighting technician at the Shaw Festival and working mainly as a lighting designer, Geoff has designed over 200 productions for Carousel Players, Theatre New Brunswick, Neptune Theatre, Northern Light Theatre, The Mayfield, Brian Webb Dance, Mile Zero Dance, Kurt Browning, Leave it to Jane Theatre and last, but not least, Grant MacEwan University where he holds the position of chair of the award-winning theatre production program. Thinking of a career backstage? Visit www.macewan.ca/theatreproduction.
Brian Webb has developed a national reputation as a contemporary dancer, choreographer and artistic leader. He has brought an international array of contemporary dance companies to Edmonton through the Brian Webb Dance Company, which he founded 34 years ago. In 1979, he formed the BWDC as a "company in residence" at Grant MacEwan College, where he was the chair of the dance program for 10 years. The company began presenting a dance season in 1991 and is now the largest season of contemporary dance west of Toronto. Since the beginning, the BWDC has been dedicated to experimentation and a collaborative creative process. His company has commissioned over 30 musical scores, numerous installations by visual artists and scripts by writers. Brian collaborates with local artists and works to give their work a broad context by tours across Canada and abroad. Amongst many other honours, Brian won Edmonton’s prestigious Artistic Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
In 2012/13 Philip Cutlip sings Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Virginia Opera, Messiah with Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the title role of Don Giovanni with Toledo Opera, Carmina Burana with Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and also Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s War Requiem for American Choral Directors Association, and Faure’s Requiem at Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Recent highlights include Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas with Mark Morris Dance Group/Cal Performances, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with New York City Opera, Handel’s Alexander’s Feast with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Brahms’ Requiem with Spokane Symphony, Splendiano in Bizet’s Djamileh with American Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s The Seasons with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the title role in Glass’ Orphée with Glimmerglass and Portland operas (recorded for Orange Mountain Music), Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Minnesota Opera, Ariodate in Serse with Houston Grand Opera, and Maurice Bendix in The End of the Affair with Seattle Opera.
Russian-American Baritone Aleksey Bogdanov, has been praised as "a baritone to watch" by the Washington Post, with a "distinctive color and affability." This season he is seen with Atlanta Opera Escamillo in Carmen, and will return to Washington National Opera in the title role and as Masetto in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Future engagements include Belcore in L'Elisr d'Amore with the Washington National Opera, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Glimmerglass Festival, and Rodrigo in Don Carlo with Edmonton Opera. Previous engagements include Escamillo (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Bernard DeVoto in A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck (Glimmerglass Festival), Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte and Sharpless (Washington National Opera). Aleksey has performed with Washington Concert Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Merola Program, Opera North, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Aleksey has also performed in recital at La Scala in Milan, and has also been featured on A Prairie Home Companion.
James McLennan has performed with virtually all of Canada's major opera companies in repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music. Highlights include Remendado in Carmen with Calgary Opera, the Fourth Jew in Salome for Vancouver Opera, the title role in Candide for Toronto Operetta Theatre, Antoine Tassy in Kamouraska with Opera in Concert, Borsa in Rigoletto for Manitoba Opera and Beppe in Pagliacci with Hamilton Opera. He has sung the St. John Passion with the Amadeus Choir (Evangelist) and the Grand Philharmonic (arias), Handel's Israel in Egypt with the Mendelssohn Choir, the Bach Mass in B Minor with the Vancouver Bach Choir, and Haydn's Creation with the Winnipeg Symphony, where he was also the tenor soloist for the North American premiere of the Tavener Requiem. An alumnus of the Second City Training Centre, North America's premier improv and comedy school, he holds a degree in French translation from York University's Glendon College.
Act I, Scene 1: The garden of the Larin country estate
Eugene Onegin's uncle has died suddenly, willing his nephew a large country estate. Onegin's recent move to country life only underscores his boredom with cosmopolitan pleasures and general resentment of humanity. In spite of his disgruntlement, Onegin befriends the young poet Lenski, who introduces Onegin to Larina, a country-estate owner with two daughters, Olga and Tatiana. Larina, sitting outside with the family nurse, recalls her youth which she spent listening to her Moscow cousin regale her with tales of romantic novels by Richardson, nostalgically reflecting on male characters such as the virtuous Charles Grandison and the villainous Lovelace. So, when Larina observes Tatiana absorbed in a romantic novel of her own, she warns her daughter that real life is seldom like the stories they read. Lenski and Onegin arrive. Onegin is surprised that the serious and intense Lenski is Olga's fiancé, given her cheerfully outgoing yet superficial personality. Tatiana is immediately attracted to Onegin. Tatiana's character, the opposite of her sister, responds to Onegin as a fulfillment of her dreams, inspired by the romantic novels she has been reading.
Scene 2: Tatiana's bedroom
Tatiana is distracted and confides in her nurse that she is in love. Later, alone, she writes a letter to Onegin. In this famous “letter scene,” Tatiana realizes that she is fatally attracted to Onegin, and overcomes her doubts that he might reject her. She pours out her feelings, in effect asking if Onegin could ever be married to her. Tatiana requests her nurse send the letter to Onegin.
Scene 3: Later, elsewhere on the Larin estate
Onegin has arrived to respond to Tatiana's letter and give her his answer. He is greatly moved by her feelings, yet despite his awakenings to a new, less cynical sensibility, he explains somewhat gently that he could not be the best type of husband to her, and so should not marry. He continues, almost lecturing Tatiana now, telling her that love does not come easily to him. Although Tatiana is overwhelmed and cannot respond it is clear her heart has been crushed at Onegin's seeming willfulness to continue his solitary life.
Act II, Scene 1: The ballroom of the Larin house on Tatiana's name-day
Onegin has been urged to come to the name-day celebration; however he is intensely irritated with the guests and their penchant for country gossip about him and Tatiana. He contemplates revenge on Lenski for persuading him to come to the event. He begins flirting with Olga, making Lenski extremely jealous and outraged. Olga welcomes Onegin's attention, apparently indifferent to her fiancé Lenski, who judges that she is attracted to Onegin. Tatiana's foppish French tutor Monsieur Triquet sings some verses in honour of her, after which the quarrel between Lenski and Onegin boils over and the company can no longer ignore it. As the quarrel escalates, Lenski renounces his friendship with Onegin, and finally challenges Onegin to a duel. Spurred on by Zaretski, a local landlord, Lenski decides that reconciliation is now impossible with his former friend. Although Onegin initially refuses the duel, thinking Lenski mad, he is finally socially obligated to accept it, against his better judgment. This scene comprises a remarkable social commentary in opera history against the foolhardiness of the duelling tradition.
Scene 2: Early next morning near a river in the woods
While Lenski waits for Onegin, he sings of Olga and how much he loves her. He is filled with uncertainty and dread about what is to come. Onegin arrives, and both men are reluctant to go ahead with the duel but feel they have come too far to stop it. Lenski is shot dead with one bullet through the chest.
Act III, Scene 1: St. Petersburg, three years later at a ball given by Prince Gremin
After travelling extensively all around Europe, Onegin feels emptiness in life's pleasures and is remorseful over Lenski's death. Prince Gremin enters with his wife, Tatiana, who is now transformed by her new aristocratic position into a woman of great refinement and beauty. Gremin sings of his happiness with Tatiana, and re-introduces Onegin to her. Onegin is shocked to find Princess Gremina is really the Tatiana he knew from the country years ago. He is impressed and overcome by her sophistication and worldliness.
Scene 2: A reception room at Gremin's house
Now, Onegin realizes he is in love with Tatiana, and sends her a letter. Onegin enters and begs for her love and pity. Tatiana wonders why Onegin's attraction should be so strong now, but not when he first met her three years ago. But, Onegin defends his attraction as genuine. Tatiana weeps, thinking about how close they had been at one time, and that they could have been happy together. Even though she rejects Onegin's advances, stating that she is a married woman now, she eventually reveals her true feelings and tells Onegin that she loves him still. However, now she is obligated to her duty as a wife, even to a man she does not really love. Onegin is left alone, his heart crushed, in despair.
Eugene Onegin takes place in three acts, and each of the seven scenes is a small glimpse of Tatiana’s life, of the man she loved at one point, and the heartbreaking culmination when he realizes — too late — that he loves her too. Photos: Kelly Redinger
Click the image to view the full slideshow
Click the image to view the full slideshow
Preview images of Onegin (Aleksey Bogdanov) and Tatiana (Dina Kuznetsova).
Click the image to view the full slideshow
Act 1: Peasant dance, Shumka Ukrainian Dancers
Act 2: Monsieur Triquet and Tatiana
Three things you should know about Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin - musical themes
Behind the curtain — Hoffmann rehearsals
In a few short weeks, the constant activity upstairs in the Jubilee rehearsal hall transforms into Offenbach’s dark fairytale, Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
By the time it gets on stage, all the moving parts — stage managing, costume and makeup, direction of the concept — will be neatly hidden behind the scenes, but for now, it’s all on display as the opera comes together.
And it’s fascinating.
For those who are at the rehearsal hall day and night — literally, because some of the most interesting social media content from rehearsal comes across the Internet at ridiculous hours of the night — the process may seem a little more gradual.
But for those of us who commute from the admin offices at the Winspear Centre to the rehearsal hall on a semi-regular basis, every other night or a few days a week for a couple of hours, the changes are inspiring and exciting.
At the beginning of January, Edmonton Opera staff met the cast and creative team at the airport as they arrived on a handful of flights. It was nice for both parties — staff got a chance to talk to the artists when they weren’t busy with rehearsal, and artists could ask questions about the city they’d be living in for the next four weeks. Even things as simple as grocery stores, good radio stations and arts spaces can be important.
Though rehearsals for both principals and chorus started by sitting in chairs and singing the following Monday, those chairs weren’t for long. Two-thirds of the rehearsal hall is now a duplicate of the Jubilee stage, complete with props; the principals and chorus are learning staging, where to move, when to move and how to move.
explaining things, director Joel Ivany will shadow the principals,
demonstrating where in the scene he wants more emphasis or an added gesture. He
also asks questions of the cast, about the feeling of a certain line or moment;
they reply and ask questions of their own.
For casual onlookers, the process is really smart — since Antonia, the ailing singer, doesn’t wear a watch, soprano Ileana Montalbetti removes the timepiece on her left wrist. Alternatively, tenor Steven Cole arrives at rehearsal wearing regular shoes, but sometime between then and stepping on the “stage” for his scene, he’s replaced them with overly large, red clown shoes. It’s all part of the character Frantz, who slumps with bad posture because, as Cole says here, “My posture (for Frantz) kind of says, ‘He’s seen better days.’”
The same methodical approach applies to the chorus too: at one point, chorus members have time to list, on paper, the backstory of their character(s); before staging the epilogue Ivany talks through the principals’ parts for the chorus, alternating the French libretto with English translation.
Only so much can happen in the rehearsal hall, however, so some of the effects that Ivany is imagining for the final scene — and explains to the chorus — won’t happen until they move on to the Jube stage.
What is the final, memorable scene? You’ll have to go to the circus to find out.
Photos courtesy Joel Ivany, Twitter (@joelivany)