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Your Reaction: Eugene Onegin

A selection of your comments about the opening night of Kasper Holten's Royal Opera production.

By Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News))

5 February 2013 at 11.52am | 45 Comments

Your Reaction: Eugene Onegin

A selection of your comments about the opening night of Kasper Holten's Royal Opera production.

Storified by Royal Opera House· Tue, Feb 05 2013 04:11:41

We asked a few of the audience what they thought...
Kristina and Andrea, Eugene Onegin opening night © ROH 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Kristina and Andrea:
"It's such a dramatic and sensual opera and we really loved the doubles concept. It's not an opera we'd seen before but enjoyed it a lot. Elena Maximova as Olga was a particular highlight."
Mike and David, Eugene Onegin opening night © ROH 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Mike and David:
"Simon Keenlyside as Onegin was a highlight but we also enjoyed the performances of Pavol Breslik as Lensky and Elena Maximova as Olga . We saw the previous production of the opera at Covent Garden and this gives something different though we're not convinced about the austerity staging"
Claire and Susannah, Eugene Onegin opening night © ROH 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Claire and Susannah:
"The production is fabulous. We particularly love the design and the projected backdrops are great. It's the first time that we've seen the opera we can see why it's a classic - a very attractive new production!"
David and Gareth, Eugene Onegin opening night © ROH 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
David and Gareth:
"The production is beautifully performed but we're not sure about the doubles concept. Simon Keenlyside really gives a new take on the character of Onegin and his was a real in your face performance. He really throws himself into his part, as does Robin Ticciati whose conducting is a little on the loud side - we could hear him from our seat!"
A selection of your tweets...
Looks like reaction to #ROHEugeneOnegin is nice & mixed. I love the fact that a show can produce so many opinions.Operatraveller
Thoroughly enjoyed #ROHEugeneOnegin. Production took getting used to but generally effective. Great cast and orchestra!Charlotte Yuen
#ROHEugeneOnegin appealed to me more on a cerebral level than an emotional one.Think I’ll get more from it when I see it “up close” on 20th.Ruth Elleson
The Royal Opera in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Tonight's #ROHEugeneOnegin was a great but challenging production sung by fantastic cast. Apparently not to everyone's taste, but I loved itTom Oxenham
Walking away from @RoyalOperaHouse bewildered by the new #ROHEugeneOneginEntartete Musik
@RuthElleson @nahokomusic My first, but I enjoyed it - booing was harsh. Good to see the zombie nuns being recycled ;-) #ROHEugeneOneginOlivia O'Sullivan
Simon Keenlyside as Eugene Onegin and Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
The production by @kasperholten is full of ideas drawn from the text and fully at the service of emotion. For me the best #ROHEugeneOneginDavid Cloke
Holten's #ROHEugeneOnegin has flashes of his genius - but in blocking, detail and synergy with Ticciati. Not in the over-cooked concept.Andrew Mellor
Enjoyed most of Eugene Onegin at ROH tonight, but a bit mystified by some of the directing. Young Tatiana was there why?Amy Gray
I liked many of the ideas + the movement in the production, but a bit cluttered overall. My takeaway thought: twigs=turmoil #rohEugeneOneginKatrina Ramsey
Thom Rackett as Young Eugene Onegin and Vigdis Hentze Olsen as Young Tatyana in Eugene Onegin © ROH / Bill Cooper 2013Royal Opera House Covent Garden
A selection of comments about the cast...
Easily the best performance I've heard from Keenlyside who I think often gets miscast #ROHEugeneOneginEd Beveridge
Musically it was beautiful performance tonight. Fantastic singers and orchestra. #ROHEugeneOneginAnton Lukovkin
The orchestra under Robin Ticciati was excellent and much of the singing was very good too #ROHOneginThomas Corrie
Bravo Pavol Breslik, a truly tragic Lensky, another terrific night out at the opera #ROHEugeneOneginAndy Bass
Watch a rehearsal of the production, filmed as part of Royal Opera LIVE...
Eugene Onegin in rehearsal - Royal Opera LIVEroyaloperahouse

What did you think of Eugene Onegin?

Eugene Onegin will be screened live into cinemas on 20 February. Find your nearest cinema.

The production is generously supported by the Monument Trust with additional philanthropic support from Sir Simon and Lady Robertson,  David Hancock and The Artists’ Circle. The Production Director is generously supported by Hamish and Sophie Forsyth.

By Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News))

5 February 2013 at 11.52am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged audience, by Kasper Holten, Eugene Onegin, Production, reaction, Reviews, Social Media, twitter, your reaction

This article has 45 comments

  1. So far can only comment on what looks good colourwise.

  2. Anne Toovey responded on 5 February 2013 at 2:13pm Reply

    Some clever ideas but conveyed in too heavy-handed a way, at least for my liking. Keenlyside is a very subtle actor as well as a good singer. A few glimpses of the younger Onegin/Tatiana would have been more effective - almost felt Holten didn't trust the opera or the singers to work. Liked his Copenhagen Ring but this felt cluttered. Mind you felt the same about les Troyens - too many people wafting around , too much stuff . Trust us Kasper - we won't get bored if people just stand still and sing sometimes!

  3. Lilian responded on 5 February 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

    The singing and playing was good generally - I would need quite a list to say who was especially good. I really like this opera and have seen it a few times before.
    I liked the concept of doing it as a flashback, but I really didn't like the doubling of Onegin and Tatyana - in one scene it meant that the other singers addressed some lines to young T and others to adult T, which was wierd. In the duel scene it was odd when the second noted that Onegin was late, I wanted to shout out "He's behind you!". It got in the way of developing a good ensemble.
    The sense of Onegin's dissolute life came across better than it usually does, and the idea that both their lives built on the ghosts of the past came across well. But I am getting a bit fed up with Directors who assume we need to be told every detail and don't have any imagination ourselves. Ultimately this was a production that engaged the brain rather than the senses - opera should be able to do both.
    P.S. Did serfs wear black bombazine even for best? - I doubt it.

  4. Freddy responded on 5 February 2013 at 7:06pm Reply

    My wife and I loved this production Keenlyside just gets better and better. I despair of the critics who gave ENO's Traviata 4 and 5 stars and this only three. I would have reversed these classifications.

  5. Catherine responded on 5 February 2013 at 7:08pm Reply

    Lots of positives - orchestra fabtastic and the remarkable Krassimira Stoyanova who was superb as Tatyana. However there was one hugely jarring moment which pretty much spoiled it for me - in the final scene as Tatyana and Onegin are singing of how things could have been (heart rending stuff) we were shown their younger selves in a cut away filmic use of the younger doubles dancing onto and across the stage. It completely ruined the most beautiful moment when surely the whole audience was there feeling the loss and regret - it was awful and I really hope this kind of show and tell at the very most sensitive moments does not catch on. Totally unecessary.

  6. Barry Hawley-Green responded on 5 February 2013 at 8:01pm Reply

    Really enjoyed performance. Especially the doubling of Onegin and Tatyana. I agree that the doubling was not perfect - the appearance of adult O in duel scene was not great, also the dancing of young T with adult O in scene where she is imagining her infatuation with him was strange (why was she not dancing with young O?
    Despite this thought it very good. Always have had a problem with older stars playing younger roles for half the opera. This production was refreshing and (almost) got it right. Well done.

  7. Michael de Navarro responded on 5 February 2013 at 10:02pm Reply

    I love this piece and my memories of it go back to Soderstrom and later Prokina at Glyndebourne and, nearly as good, Cotrubas here. I thought last night was very well sung and acted and conducted. The flashback concept was thought provoking had some wonderful moments (the almost maternal agony of old Tatyana watching her younger self during the letter scene and old Onegin desperately trying to undo the duel) and the whole thing reeeked of love for the piece and its emotions, but ironically, for me, the Brechtian distancing reduced the emotional impact of the letter scene. Still a pleasure to have such an intelligent and thought through production and one could really believe in the central two characters as real people. Not perfect but very good.

  8. John Morley responded on 5 February 2013 at 10:08pm Reply

    i must admit to being a little disappointed - certainly not with the singing or the orchestra. The set designs were on the poor side. I kept wishing for a scene where the doors would fly up and just let the singers get on with it. i found the young Tatyana and Onegin mostly intrusive. A young Tatyana representing the young Tatyana? I think that the letter scene would have been more emotionally involving if Ms Stoyanova had been allowed to write her own letter. Only once did the doubling work for me - in the final duet when we all get a glimpse of what could have been. Nice to see Onegin still has a hip flask handy. Mr Holten got off fairly lightly. The opera deserves a better production than this. Still, at least it takes the opera seriously, unlike the recent Robert le Diable.

  9. Matteo Gallanti responded on 5 February 2013 at 11:49pm Reply

    I have the feeling that the comments are heavily filtered. I (and many people in the audience) agree with the FT review and in particular the staging is very dull, with unresolved analysis and a deja-vu concept. The costumes are quite awful and the
    I liked the orchestra and Lensky while I found Simon a bit struggling at the medium level notes.

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 6 February 2013 at 7:29am

      Hi Matteo

      We actually make a real effort to show the range of comments from the night, and the selection does represent the divided opinions. We welcome additional views here in the comments section, so there's more than one chance to share your views.

      Best

      Ellen

  10. Renske Mann responded on 6 February 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    In one word: disaster! Why introduce prancing alter-egos for Onegin and Tatyana, leaving the leads static and unable to act their roles? The "young versions" were too distracting. Everyone knows what Holten is trying to convey, but in opera "less can often be more". No need to keep Lensky's 'corpse' on stage, after the murder, as a reminder of Onegin's guilt. Tatyana's letter scene was a failure. As for the Hockney-like landscape sets with their red trees and snow scenes, please spare me! I expect more from the ROH, despite decent singing, an excellent chorus, but also a frequently below-par orchestra.

  11. Positives - great singing and orchestral playing - everyone gave it their all.
    Negatives - the staging which meant that at times it felt like a concert performance as all the singers were forced to use just the front of the stage in front of the overwhelming doors. Really disliked the chorus dressed in black and the wasted opportunities for the singers to reflect the wonderful dancing rhythms of the music.

  12. Hm, it’s just one of those things isn’t it? We’d like to see something different (especially since the opera has been done a few times very recently around London) but the “different” is bound to unsettle us :-) I’ve got mixed feelings about it, there are things that don’t appeal to me very much, but there are also aspects that I really love. I am not sure using mostly only about 1 third of the stage space was a good idea, as it may come across more static due to this, it makes you feel rather closed in, but maybe this was intentional? The sideline view in the auditorium is also an issue (and it is linked to the use of the front of the stage, had there been more depth to the set, less of the interactions would have happened on the sides). Yes we know restricted view seats mean just that, however, it’s very rare in ROH productions that one misses entire scenes from the sides. And this was the case here where from the right hand side one could hardly see Lenski’s boots or the final interactions between Tatyana and Onegin for that matter. The same was true for the letter scene, where both teenage and mature Tatyana spent most of the letter scene on the right hand side. This means that sadly quite a number of us were not able to engage with the characters in some crucial moments of the opera and I wish this would have been considered more carefully (as said, because in most cases in my experience the view is not quite as restricted from the sides :-)).

    I didn’t particularly like the huge grey old wood doors either, they become hard to look at in time, but were luckily off-set by the beauty of the world beyond them. The golden summer grass and emotionally coloured forest/trees were beautiful indeed, as was the snow. Their blending also gave a real sense of time, emotions and thoughts passing.

    The costumes were beautiful in some cases, and less so in others. Lenski may be from the country-side and maybe not most fashionable, but nobody deserves those lilac coloured pants, which looked like a poor fit too. The all black chorus, especially against some of the red backdrop at times brought back memories of the recent Macbeth... I see why Tatyana and also Onegin would see them as a menacing and unrelenting mass in ball and party scene, but I wasn’t convinced that that should be the case during the folk songs at the beginning. I wish that lighter mood had been kept at the beginning, I found it and the dancing young couple “drowning” into the black mass quite a frightening image for the on-set of the story. Not sure I can follow why that had to be…

    The pairing of young and mature characters worked for me, though I felt the connection Stoyanova- Olsen gelled better than Keelyside- Rackett. But Onegin is much harder to grasp as a character and anyone trying to match Keenlyside’s acting skills and dedication to his character would have a hard time living up to it ;-) Also, Tatyana still identifies herself with her younger feelings and emotions whereas the whole point of Onegin is that he is trying to become a different person than he was back then. For me it was this perspective about their younger selves that made two scenes especially beautiful and touching: the letter scene and the duel (which I was lucky to see in full at the GR).

    The letter scene moved me to tears, not least because of Krassimira Stoyanova’s wonderful singing! But it was the mature perspective on it that made it even more moving as the pain of love lost became more present throughout it. The was KS spun the softness of melody and how much sadness she infused in it was incredibly touching. And the connection between the two performers on stage was perfect, you could see their thoughts and feelings reflected in each other in perfect harmony. What wrapped the scene nicely for me was the gradually fading projection of the letter behind them and the progressive blurring of the words until they were covered by darkness. Definitely the most beautiful and most touching moment of the entire evening! Love it!

    The duel scene I think won also through the presence of the 2 Onegins. Whereas normally the frustration about Onegin’s rash actions would dominate, this way the overwhelming feeling was one of regret and the bond between Lenksi and Onegin was restored by the desperation in Keenlyside’s gestures and most of all by the way he was hugging Lenski during his aria. A special moment :-)

    I’m not sure about Gremin’s presence during the last scene, mostly because I don’t think from farther way in the hall the anguish on his face is visible. I think he was there mostly because he was also afraid to loose Tatyana whom he loves deeply, but from a distance his presence is rather menacing and may send mixed messages. And I think that can be distracting from the final interaction of T+O, which really shouldn't be.

    By the way kudos again to Simon Keenlyside for some elegant support in the ballet scene. I liked the idea of portraying Onegin’s search for something, or loosing himself though the string of women. But, very unfortunately, through colours and also movements this dropped us right back into the nun-ballet from Robert le Diable :-( Too soon, too similar :-( Maybe with different colourings /make up the similarities could have been avoided because the idea was good.

    Wonderful Kuda Kuda from Pavol Breslik, elegant and thoughtful and heartfelt singing. And yes, well done for sticking it out till the end ;-) Can’t be easy, but it makes sense to remind us that Lenski’s death cannot be undone. If all other obstacles could theoretically be overcome for Tatyana and Onegin to be together in the end, could they ever be happy with the memory of the death of their friend ever present?

    Beautiful and committed singing from everyone, just wish the orchestral playing would have been more sensitive to the nuances and shades the singers worked so hard to convey and support them a bit more, as some of it did get drowned out at times. Not that the music didn't sound good from the pit, it just didn't hug the singing as warmly as I wished.

    Looking forward to seeing it again a couple more times, to hear everyone sing and to think about it some more.

  13. edmond clement responded on 7 February 2013 at 8:17pm Reply

    Another disaster for the ROH management! And what a beginning for Holten! Crass, insensitive, pretentious, irrelevant, his production could not have been worse! And, once again, the designer and the producer insult the singers, the orchestra, and the audience!

  14. Not having had exposure to this opera before we were pretty non-plussed by the introduction of parallel on-stage versions of
    the main characters, Tatyana and Onegin, who prance in to dance out versions of what the characters are supposedly feeling, thinking that this was integral to the opera. Oh no it isn’t – there were a lot of boos when the production staff took a bow at the end, so other people found it distracting and unnecessary too.

    The staging was odd – just one set. It was lit and dressed to represent different scenes, but constrained the action too much. To make things worse the director had decided to keep everything discarded on the stage right to the end. Not just ripped out pages of a book, but snow, a tree branch, bits
    of a cupboard damaged in the brawl, and poor dead Lensky. Pretty cluttered and I imagine a nightmare for the characters tripping round the stage.

    However the singing was good – especially Pavol Breslik – the tenor who plays Lensky. The conductor Robin Ticciati has been criticised in reviews for being too restrained, but I thought he judged it just right. A one word description of the opera is “poignant” and that is how the orchestra came across. The horns worked hard and were fabulous.

    The Russianness was unmistakeable in scenery, singing, costumes and cast –
    must have been very comforting for the ex-pats enjoying the comforts of the £250 seats way below us.

    Despite these comments we had a great time – Covent Garden is magical and there is always a immense sense of occasion. The decent music and acting is always a bonus.

  15. Shirley Bell responded on 8 February 2013 at 7:07pm Reply

    I am inclined to agree with Edmond Clement.

    To my mind there are two questions:
    a) was the "flashback" idea a good one?
    and b) if so, could it have been done less ineptly?
    I don't think anything was gained by the "flashback"; it confused the action and watered down the drama. But I do feel that if it had to be done, it could certainly have been handled better.

    I have seen several productions of this opera including an excellent one in Leningrad (as it was then) by the graduate students of the Conservatoire; also a magical one at the ROH with the young Cotrubas as Tatyana, so I am able to make comparisons.

    Sadly I found this eagerly anticipated evening a great disappointment on many levels; bright spots were Olga and Lensky, Keenlyside appeared limited by having to play half of his character though, as ever, he sang well.

    Sorry to be a misery!

  16. This was bad in so many ways. The heavy handed "explanations" by way of crude stage contrivances such as the flashbacks were not only unnecessary but they served to muddy the narrative. A newcomer to this opera would have had no idea what this was about. The poignant letter scene was unforgivably ruined. The duel was comical with the unconvincing hand wringing from Keenlyside. Kasper Holten has said that he wants opera to be "challenging". It is now apparent that this means to make simple ideas incomprehensible. I fear that his regime will make the crazily high ticket prices seem even more like a bad buy. You can buy childish pretentiousness at a quarter of the price at opera north.

  17. eileen culling responded on 10 February 2013 at 5:23pm Reply

    loved the singing/music/set/lighting -thought the 'body doubles' were distracting tosh and agree that Keenlyside seemed diminished - usually gives a very enjoyable performance - by his double in the duel scene

  18. peter ellis responded on 10 February 2013 at 5:40pm Reply

    Stick to the knitting. I don't believe the Director of Opera should direct in his/her own house. Elaine Padmore, to my knowledge, never did. With a generally negative reaction to Kaspar's production, the RoH is posed with a dilemma. . . There is no oblectivity. What happens next; we now have a vastly inferior new production to the previous one . Will Kaspar have the mettle to subjugate his ego and revive the previous version?

  19. Natalia Kudriavtseva responded on 11 February 2013 at 3:33am Reply

    ROH production usually a delight. This - not so.
    An immediately bad sign - a supplementary card ballet, voiceless doubles to excite younger audience, i presume, which good opera does not require.
    Costumes, stage set- poor, unimaginative. Black for the happy peasant scenes? Must you reinterpret the classic? Natalia

  20. Miranda Morad responded on 11 February 2013 at 11:08am Reply

    I'm not going to add to all of the above - agree with pretty much everything that has been said both good and bad, but I will add this: - if any of you saw the ballet as well this season, did you find it hard to reconcile the intorduction of the young Tatiana and Onegin in the opera with that which you'd seen in the ballet?

    I found it very tricky. After seeing Cranko's superb choregraphy in the ballet, it was hard not to have an image of the ballet in my mind. I wasnt expecting to have to deal with this - I was expecting, at the opera, to focus on the singing to transmit the message and tell the story, not choregraphy. And so, I missed the message both because the choreography was simple, and it distracted from the singing. Letter scene was a case in point. Completely passed me by, sadly. I couldnt help think of the ballet, all the way through, and this production came off very much the worse for it.

    However, I enjoyed it, would go again, salute the courage of ROH to give it a go, but do think the letter scene needs a bit off work.

  21. Bill Griffiths responded on 11 February 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

    I have to say that this was one of the worst prodctions at ROH I have seen but why am I not surprised. This is one in a long line of productions "Falstaff", "Troyens" etc that have been dreadful. Musically good - great performances from Diana Montague, always reliable and the Olga. I am a great admirer of Simon Keenlyside but I am not sure that Onegin is an idea role for him.

    I agree that having dounbles for Oneging and Tatyana was distrcting and often confusing.

    This is not a great introduction for Kaspar Holten and I agree with the comment above. What do the ROH do now? I believe that part of the condition of his taking the role would be that he would direct one production per season. I wonder what we are in store for next.

    On a positive note about Onegin. The conducting and orchestra were fantastic. Papano could learn from Mr Ticciati in the fact that he is sensative and does not show off!! Glyndebourne is very lucky in having him as Music Director

  22. I want a refund. No surtitles is ok for amateurs. Disgraceful.

  23. Alexander Jacoby responded on 12 February 2013 at 12:19am Reply

    Liked the production more than most people above. Liked Stoyanova, Breslik and Keenlyside. But definitely did not like the lack of surtitles for the first half. Did the ROH know that there was a problem before it started? If so, there should have been an announcement. If not, it should not have taken an hour and a half to get them repaired. An apology in the interval is not really good enough.

  24. Michael Chamberlain responded on 12 February 2013 at 12:50pm Reply

    Vivien and I saw it February 9th. Certainly a cerebral and coherent direction. "The arrow of fate is just". Just or not - certainly a wonderfully imagined production, which was beautifully sung. Orchestra slightly disappointing on our night, and a few over explained fussinesses. But terrific. This director is IT.

  25. John Rose responded on 12 February 2013 at 12:59pm Reply

    Obviously a glitch prevented the surtitles in Part 1. But actually...one could concentrate more fully on the music and action. I'm not advocating a return to the old days....but just for a short time I didn't find it too bad. Mind you,I did feel a disconnect between audience and performers. A rather cool audience response to an excellent musical performance at any rate,regardless of what one thought of the production.

  26. John Wright responded on 12 February 2013 at 1:58pm Reply

    A work with as many layers as Eugene Onegin is capable of interpretation from more than one perspective. It seems to me that Kasper Holten’s concept is the result of deep reflection on the text and the music and accords with the “spirit” of both – it’s a far cry from the kind of extreme directorial “re-creation” than can be seen in many European opera-houses, often with unsatisfying results. There has evidently been very detailed work of direction of the singers in the acting of their roles. This dramatic direction is thought through with consistency and insight and fortunately has the benefit of singers who can act (and I think this helped last night during the unfortunate absence of surtitles in Part 1). The set designs and costumes are pretty effective in embodying the overall approach.

    For example, the Name-Day Party is full of dramatic truth, including in the chorus work; Lensky’s challenge was more comprehensible than it often is. In the Duel Scene, to have the duet sung (and so movingly) by Lensky and, as in retrospect, by the older remorseful Onegin was a brilliant stroke which justified the “doubling”. The “doubling” is more problematic in the Letter Scene but, if the premise is accepted, it largely works, not least because Mme Stoyanova makes it work. She was wonderful throughout.

    Whatever one’s view of the production itself, the singing , conducting and playing were of a very high order. Last night Part 2 was searing in its intensity. Loud bravos to all concerned.

    I smiled at the suggestion that Mr Holten should have the “mettle” to revive the previous production. I seem to recall that the late Steven Pimlott’s production (which I enjoyed on its last revival though, overall, not as much as last night) was rather unkindly received by the critics – no doubt some of them the same as those who have given Mr Holten such a kicking in their sour and superficial reviews.

    Obviously this isn’t the only way to stage this opera but I am happy to have seen it – especially with these singers and this conductor.

  27. Kasper Holten's production of Eugene Onegin is the third I’ve seen at the Royal Opera House, London. In a good way, it is more reserved than the first production I saw in 2008 by Steven Pilmott/Elaine Kidd, which took liberties with the stage sets, and better than the 2010's Bolshoi production, where supposedly shy Tatyana was neurotically pushing the table and chairs away. In the current production, I did like the (controversial) double Tatyana, recognisable by her red dress: one sings and the other acts, which allows the superb Krassimira Stoyanova/Tatyana to focus on her singing and also infuses more drama in the letter scene. It felt appropriately it was a different Tatyana who wrote the letter while she sees her younger self carried away by her feelings. A similar effect is used for Onegin in the duel scene with Lensky, sung by Pavol Breslik, who carried me away in his Kuda aria.

  28. Matteo Scala responded on 14 February 2013 at 7:16pm Reply

    I just want to add myself to the number of people who liked this production: for me it was excellent both in the music, the singing and in the stage (although I understand the point of view of people who didn't like the idea of the doubles and of the accumulation of memories on the scene, which instead I enjoyed it a lot).
    Thanks!

  29. Caroline Murray responded on 16 February 2013 at 6:24pm Reply

    I came over from the continent with friends but quite honestly the opera was not worth the visit. My friends left after the first act; subtitling not working in the first act was not acceptable for an opera house so important as the ROH. Its a shame they have taken on this new director, he should have stayed in his home country - does not offer an exciting future for the ROH. Whilst the singing and music were lovely, the conductor's orchestra was a bit loud covering the voices at times (he needs to mature), the scenery, costumes - especially of the choir - could have been much improved. On the whole, rather a disaster!

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 16 February 2013 at 8:38pm

      Sincere apologies for the problem with the surtitles that evening - this was due to operator error.

  30. Maria Maher responded on 17 February 2013 at 10:22am Reply

    Wonderful singing and conducting, but dreadful production and directing. Dead body of Lensky lying there was distracting; dead tree limb (?) - what was that all about; the 'doubles' just a distraction; the prince pushing Onegin about in the final act doesn't have anything to do with the music or the libretto; and Onegin acting like a soccer hooligan rather than an aristocrat. I go back to see this opera for the singing and conducting, but the production is just too dreadful.

  31. Lucy Turner responded on 17 February 2013 at 10:48am Reply

    The two performances I saw last week were excellent - pity about the production. The youthful doubles might have provided a flashback focus in the final scene, but simply created confusion otherwise. And Gremin's intrusion in the closing scene was utterly misjudged, implying that Tatyana's resolve to send Onegin away might not otherwise have held. Overall, I got the impression that Kasper Holten felt that Pushkin and Tchaikovsky had left a work in progress but they hadn't thought it through properly. There is room for Onegin to unbend slightly in Act 1, but Simon Keenlyside's frisky, tiggerish demeanour here and in Act 2 did not sit comfortably with the references in the text to his aloofness - and Onegin would certainly not have arrived at Madam Larina's with an unbuttoned jacket. Please, Mr Holten, stick to the day job!

  32. Shirley Bell responded on 17 February 2013 at 5:48pm Reply

    Have been again to Eugene Onegin; found it musically far better than the first night but the production still dire.
    However, it was nice to have a break from the dreaded surtitles, although unintentional!

    • Bill Griffiths responded on 20 February 2013 at 1:52pm

      Glutton for punishment, Shirley seeing it twice. Sadly I was not at the performae when the surtitles failed. It is a pity that this does not happen more often. When willl CG and other opera houses realise that not everyone likes surtitles. If only CG would thing about doing at least 1 performance of each opera without. That would satisfy everyone.

    • Alexander Jacoby responded on 21 February 2013 at 11:14pm

      I realise there are some people who don't like the surtitles. I don't quite understand why. Do they know every opera in every language off by heart? Or do they just not care about the dramatic / narrative aspects of the medium? In any case, those people can presumably satisfy their preferences by looking at the stage rather than the titles which are a very long way above the singers. Starting to jump between surtitled and unsurtitled performances is only going to confuse everybody. Please don't!

  33. Nozomi Nakata responded on 21 February 2013 at 8:05am Reply

    Attended Feb 20 performance. Agree with critics that some scenes would need reconsiderations (I did not like Prince Gremin's presence in the final scene). On the other hand, some other directions made sense; how Lensky acted in dual scene made it easier for me to understand Onegin's suffering in his later years. Ms. Stoyanova and Mr. Keenlyside pulled it off. Her letter scene was amazing.

  34. Keith Gauntlett responded on 21 February 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    I saw the streamed performance last evening in the Reel Cinema Fareham, despite losing approximately 5 minutes at the beginning due to a technical fault at the ROH I really enjoyed the musical presentation. I thought Simon Keenlyside was excellent as was Krassimira Stoyanova (albeit a little old for the part). My one misgiving is that of stage management. There should surely have been at least 3 changes of scenery whereas there were none. Was this presentation being carried out under severe budgetary constraints?

  35. Peter Erdos responded on 21 February 2013 at 10:27am Reply

    I only managed to see the last performance's live transmission in the cinema. It was good to appreciate the acting of all the main characters, perhaps the only objection I had of Peter Rose's too jovial Prince Gremin reminding me of Baron Ochs in the Rosenkavalier..
    The singing in general was first rate, Pavol Breslik and Stoyanova in particular. Keenlyside was par excellence in the last scene, but generally I had the feeling that Onegin is not his best role.
    Regarding the much discussed production I do not want to repeat the majority of comments (the negative ones) with which I wholeheartedly agree.
    Onegin is a simple tragic love story ably written by Pushkin and masterfully composed music by Tchaikovsky. Everything is explained by them and it was totally unnecessary to complicate and confuse this presentation by Mr. Holten. (Incidentally he gave us a totally inexplicable explanation of the main characters' psychological state as presented)
    To me the two main crucial scenes, the letter scene and the duel were badly misconceived and ruined the drama. Prince Gremin's splendid ball represented by a number of sexually highly charged ladies gyrating around Onegin, the dead Lensky on stage in the last two scenes and the presence of Gremin in the last scene I found a travesty!
    I think a concert performance in this instance could have served this great work better.

  36. marina phillips responded on 21 February 2013 at 10:47am Reply

    Mixed feelings: liked singing ( esp Lensky and chorus ) and orchestra. Did not like the costumes for the chorus.And being Russian and a big admirer of both novel and opera I found that some moments were quite off putting : e.g. Onegin's mannerisms and style are very chav-like (sticking tongue out, having his hipflask at the ball and trying to make Olga to behave like a gilr from the housing estate - the name day ball reminded me more the scene from the British pub), using the modern pens in the letter writing scenes while the whole productions is tied up to the 19th century. I did not mind the doubles idea in general but the dance of young Tatiana in the letter scene looks cheap and oversexed. And I agree with some commentators that Gremin's presence in the last scene flattens the meaning of Pushkin masterpeice ( felt like watching Eastenders !)

  37. John Evans responded on 21 February 2013 at 3:38pm Reply

    The screening at Watford Palace Theatre on February 20 was blighted from beginning to end by major technical problems (sound and vision dropping out and jumping around like a very badly scratched disc). There was no public announcement at the venue to apologise or explain. Never again!

    • Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News)) responded on 21 February 2013 at 4:04pm

      Hi John. Really sorry to hear about your experience. Please be assured we are looking into this to ensure it doesn't happen again.

      Chris
      Digital Content Producer

  38. Helena Marsh responded on 21 February 2013 at 11:03pm Reply

    We watched Onegin at the Salisbury Odeon yesterday and thought the doubles/flashback concept was original and worked well. It avoided the problem of older singers playing youthful roles. Does one need the close-ups? (In 'Faust' for example Gheorghiu's wrinkles did not convince as the young Gretchen). The interviews with cast and production team are a bonus you don't get in the opera house and the subtitles are easier to read than when they are overhead. The singing was glorious especially the four principals and I was struck by Zaretsky's promising bass. It was right to leave the body on stage as a lasting reminder. I noticed that Tatiana in the last scene was still wearing her red dress underneath the white ball gown, presumably to indicate her love for Onegin is still alive. Gremin was superb - huge stature and overwhelming with all his orders and medals and great voice, almost OTT but should not have stayed to witness the final duet. He should not be aware of the sacrifice Tatiana has made.
    The sound in the Salisbury Odeon Screen 1 (big space) was excellent, no hitches, just now and then distant rumbling from Skyfall in another Screen could be sensed. But this was a very small blip in a wonderful experience. We sat as if in the best seats in the ROH and felt it was a huge privelege to be there at a cost of £15 a seat and only a few minutes from home. We are so grateful. Now for Nabucco!

  39. Michael Browne responded on 15 May 2013 at 7:03am Reply

    I have just been to see Onegin at the cinema in Brisbane, Australia. Outstanding! In the introduction the director and conductor explained that this is an intimate opera not meant for a large opera house. Seeing it on screen, then, is perfection. The closeup camera work gets the audience io close and personal in a way that would be impossible in the theatre unless you were in the front row with field glasses. Lemsky's aria was heart-wrenchingly sung. But close up, the remorse that Simon Keenlyside portrayed, just acting silently, made the scene doubly devastating. Give that man an Oscar! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone involved. Michael

  40. naomi layish responded on 1 June 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

    For Gods sake, Pappano, get rid of Kaspar Holten!

This article has 1 mention elsewhere

  1. Review: Onegin at the Royal Opera House | “The thing is...”:  [...] and two Tatyanas on stage. The older Tatyana and Onegin sing, their younger selves remain mute. Some have described it as a gimmick, but where it works, it works [...]

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