“Eugene Onegin,” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, live in high-definition from the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, at Cinemark Theater in Webster.
This first opera in the Met’s 2013-14 season was a thorough success.
A young woman’s love for an arrogant fellow who first spurns her, then, years later, is rejected by her despite loving him still but true to her marriage vows to another man, was elegantly portrayed.
The opera is sung by wonderfully talented performers led by soprano Anna Netrebko, opening the Met’s season for the third year in a row and singing in her native Russian.
Her melodic soprano voice was in perfect form, and she is a pleasure to look at, even in 19th century garb, bustle and all. She has matured after 20-plus years of singing — she is in her early 40s — and impresses the viewer with the strength and range of her pure, clear voice.
Her long solo aria in Act I nearly brought down the house with sustained shouting and applause from the delighted audience.
Mariusz Kwiecien plays the title role. He is skinny and handsome, acting and singing the baritone part of a man in his 20s convincingly. But he is arrogant and self-centered until the very end of the opera, when he confesses his love for Tatiana (Netrebko) in an emotional duet but is rejected by the now-married young woman and drops to his knees in despair as the final curtain falls, four hours after it began.
The scene-stealer, tenor Piotr Beczala, plays Lenski and sings exquisitely but is killed by Onegin in a duel, right before our eyes.
The story, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s amazingly melodious score, tells again a lesson of life: We must act when the time is right or lose our fortune.
In the end, we are actually sorry for that scoundrel Onegin, hopelessly in love with a married woman who loves him but will not leave her devoted husband.
I am a big fan of Anna Netrebko and have her pictures plastered all over the wall in front of my work station. She sang a serious role to perfection, and, sad throughout the opera, cracked nary a smile. She has a gorgeous smile but I had to wait until curtain call to see it.
The few picky things to criticize are trivial compared to the astonishing accomplishment of several hundred people working together to produce a great opera with near-perfect performances by the cast, chorus, orchestra, crew and directors/producers. The Met season is off to a good start.
I came home to find a copy of a new book of poems by my friend, Ute Carson. After shedding many a tear at the opera, I read Ute’s poems about birth, aging and death and ended this Saturday boohooing some more. What a day.
Melvyn Schreiber, a physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch, is a fan of opera. In an occasional series of columns, he’ll discuss operas that are available through recordings. Melvyn Schreiber’s essays are now available as a paperback book (without the book reviews and opera reviews). If you want one, send $15 to him at 12 E. Dansby, Galveston, TX 77551, and he will mail a copy to you. It’s not heavy enough to press your trousers with, but it may please you in other ways.