Widely regarded as Tchaikovsky’s greatest operatic work, Eugene Onegin is a tumultuous and epic Russian drama that follows the life of the disenchanted and visionless twenty-something year old Eugene and the events that ultimately lead to his downfall. Moving to the country he strikes up a friendship with Lensky, a poet, and becomes the subject of the young socialite Tatyana’s infatuation. After rejecting her advances and flirting with her sister Olga, whom happens to be Lensky’s betrothed, a disastrous duel drives Eugene to despair.
All set to the stunning music of Tchaikovsky, Opera on Location bring you an innovative and exciting production that will delve into the story and shine a light on the difference between our public personas and our private identities. Asking, when are we our true selves? Can we ever truly let go of our egos and give ourselves to another? Can we move forward from regrets we have or will they haunt us forever? All whilst bringing to life the humour, sorrow and romance of this passionate and turbulent saga.
Sung in English, Eugene Onegin will be performed in the round with the Sheffield City Hall Ballroom providing the backdrop for the action. With its high ceilings and decadent, marble features, you will be easily transported to the lively and exciting ballroom scenes and to the climactic and dramatic finale set in Prince Gremin’s palace.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky was born in a provincial town where his father was a mining engineer. However, after moving to St Petersburg when he was 8 and attending boarding school for 9 years he gained employment at the Ministry of Justice. Yet when he was 22 he left his job at the ministry and entered the City Music Conservatory and later became a professor of harmony. Now probably more well known for his ballets and orchestral works such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and his many symphonies, we should never overlook this great composer’s operas Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades.
Cast and Creatives
Location: Sheffield City Hall Ballroom
A beautiful art deco ballroom located within Sheffield City Hall. This pillar-lined venue is a flexible performance space allowing the audience to be up close to the action in our in-the-round staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.
This venue is fully accessible and includes a gorgeous mirrored bar.
Phil Turner (Rotherham Advertiser), August 2015
Tchaikovsky’s retelling of Alexander Pushkin’s wonderful story in verse boasts a fine libretto with the music perfectly matching the epic Russian romance and drama.
This stunning in-the-round production directed for Sheffield-based Opera on Location by Louise Pymer, is set in an austere, unsettling and pared-down monochrome with all the performers dressed in black and white like those old romantic films.
Location is everything for this innovative new group and through using a non-specific time period being surrounded by the art deco ballroom’s high ceilings and marble, it’s not hard to imagine the pre-revolutionary 19th century St Petersburg of the original tale.
Shadowy lighting adds to the atmosphere as the performers sing and dance around the audience. Pymer’s enthusiasm for exploring character is evident and the singers all show plenty of acting depth as they seek to fulfil the group’s aim of “shining a light on the difference between our public persona and our private identities.”
In the age of celebrity and the selfie it’s an intriguing idea.
Musical director Ewan Gilford shows an extraordinary feel for Tchaikovsky’s score as we follow the life of Onegin, from the disenchanted “bored” twenty-something-year old through to the events that lead to his downfall.
Early on Olga, delightfully sung by strong mezzo-soprano Rosie Middleton, and Tatyana sing a wistful song together. The naive and pensive Tatyana cannot compare to the vivacious Olga who has a fiancé Lenski, an aspiring poet played by the excellent tenor Gareth Lloyd.
Lenski arrives with his friend Onegin, who has inherited a neighbouring estate from his uncle, though his has no interest in running it. The arrogant Onegin is amused by flirting with Tatyana and manages to unleash pent-up-fantasies of romantic love in her. In the remarkable “Letter Scene”, Tatyana unwisely stays up half the night writing a letter on Onegin declaring her love.
Tatyana is beautifully sung by Andrea Tweedale, who succeeds in transforming herself from teenager to older woman.
As Onegin, Aidan Edwards displays a fine baritone, but for me Lloyd steals it with his flourish of touching emotion before he meets his tragic end in a dual with his friend. Onegin deserves and gets his come-uppance at the end.
A fabulous and stimulating night at the opera.