This was the weekend that mum came up and we went to Eugene Onegin playing at the Rialto, part of the 2013-2014 Metropolitan season in High Definition.

Note to self: need to grab something to stay alert during the first act.  I was wilting towards the end of the first act and missed lines as Onegin rejected Tatiana.  I grabbed a bottle of water from the reception and we had an ice cream each which kept us alert for the rest of the performance.

The setting of the opera was enjoyable as Russia moved from harvest into winter.  Russia always seems to be in winter.  It’s a permenent state of mind.  The Larin woman are waiting for harvesthome in the enclosure of their garden of their country estate.  Tatiana and Olga are the Larin sisters.  Olga has the poet Lensky for her lover.  Tatiana holds a candle for Onegin.  He rebuffs her advances. 

Onegin is a cool dude.  Everything bores him.  At a winter ball he flirts with Olga because the event bores him.  Lensky is outraged.  Both men meet for a duel.  The poet is killed.  Onegin departs Russia for several years.  The world bores him.  He returns to Russia and arrives for a tedious ball at Saint Petersburg.  I am reminded of a Calvin and Hobbs line: The world bores you when you’re cool.  What catches his eye is Prince Gremen’s wife, the Lady Incarnadine, in a court of grays and blacks.  The prince declares to Onegin that he adores his wife as the one true love in an insincere world.  It is Tatiana.  Onegin makes a move for her love.  She rebuffs him in turn and walks away from him into the snowy landscape after one last kiss.

True Love in Saint Petersburg, and snow

True Love in Saint Petersburg, and Snow

Shockingly neither of the two lovers throw themselves into the river.  I was expecting it.  Instead we are left with unrequited love.

Part of the enjoyment of the performance is everyone is familiar with the original story, both by Tchaikovsky, and Pushkin’s original poem.  The conductor Valery Gergiev was educated in Pushkin under the Soviet system (which makes me wonder if the Russians have stopped doing this).  Anna Netrebko is singing in her first language.  Mariusz Kwiecien and Piotr  Beczala, playing Onegin and Lensky respectively get a chance to mug up to the film camera backstage in Polish.

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