Eugene Onegin

Painting by Michael Abraham

We love opera, as some readers may know from the few times I’ve written about it here. Most exciting for us is to enjoy the colourful and lively visuals of theatre along with the inspiring music. We try to catch some of the offerings on television or DVD and very occasionally indulge and attend a life performance.

In the past, we’ve resisted season tickets to any one musical organization, thinking we’ll dip into a variety of offerings in our city. However we have a tendency to be lazy and leave decisions to the last moment, then end up not going out as much as we should for our own pleasure. Commitment-phobia perhaps? This fall, however, we impulsively decided to get some discounted season tickets to our very own Vancouver Opera.

So this past Saturday evening we attended the opening night of the first opera of this season, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. It was a delight! New to us as a whole production, sung in Russian with English subtitles overhead, we loved it all – the stage sets, costumes, the singers, chorus, dancers, the music and the drama. As others have written, Onegin is full of many contrasts especially country vs city, peasant vs upper class Czarist society, and so full of the emotions of melancholy, love, pride, jealousy, anger, as much of opera is.

Some of the lead performers are Canadian, including Rhoslyn Jones (as Tatyana) from Abbotsford, east of Vancouver. Hearing real Russian rolling from the voice of Oleg Balashov as poet Lensky was a treat for Vancouverites. Our very favourite voice, though, turned out to be that of bass Peter Volpe as Prince Gremin.

In doing my homework on this opera, I listened to some podcasts and discovered there’s even a blog. There are now some reviews at both sites, this one being my favourite.

We are looking forward to the rest of this season of opera.

Addendum Dec.1st, 2008: Photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward attended opening night and wrote the best thing I’ve read on it.

November 25, 2008 in Culture, Music by Marja-Leena