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Your reaction: Eugene Onegin 2015

What did you think of Kasper Holten's production of Tchaikovsky's operatic masterpiece?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

29 December 2015 at 1.50pm | 20 Comments

Press reviews:
Telegraph ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Times (£) ★★★★
Bachtrack ★★★★
Guardian ★★★
What's On Stage ★★★
The Arts Desk (£) ★★★
Independent ★★★
The Stage ★★★

What did you think of Eugene Onegin?
Let us know via the comments below.

Eugene Onegin runs until 7 January 2016. Tickets are still available.

The production is a co-production with Teatro Regio di Torino and Opera Australia, and is given with generous philanthropic support from the Danish Research Foundation.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

29 December 2015 at 1.50pm

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

This article has 20 comments

  1. Patrick Buckingham responded on 30 December 2015 at 11:08am Reply

    Highly impressive performance by the principals, the chorus, the conductor and the orchestra. The production is not the best and clearly caused a degree of confusion in the minds of some members of the audience. I disliked the polonaise at the start of act 3 (although I had been warned not to expect the traditional ballroom extravaganza). Best to come up with a new production once Holten has moved on. I'm all for innovative productions but not at the expense of overall coherence.

  2. Mike responded on 31 December 2015 at 8:36am Reply

    Brilliant, revelatory production. Deepest thanks to all.

  3. Chiaki Ohashi responded on 31 December 2015 at 10:51am Reply

    Loved the costume, and highly dramatic performance from Bychkov, principals, and the orchestra. However as someone else is writing, the doubling is confusing, and particularly this is so from the upper seats on the left hand side. couldn't see from there at all what was going on, who was singing and who was not. People criticize it as being "bland", and they do have a point, but at the same time we do have to acknowledge the fact that only "bland" productions can come back with possible modifications. revisionist stagings with surprises and shocks may well be temporal.

  4. Tanya responded on 3 January 2016 at 11:28am Reply

    Thoroughly enjoyable reenacted very old story of love as studied in school. Beautiful performance by Hvorostovsky and Car. I took my 6 year old daughter to see her first opera ever and it amazes me that she was at the edge of her seat through the whole performance. The simplicity and clarity of the production is indeed intriguing.

  5. I thought this production worthy of airing but for me it absolutely did not work. Hvorostovsky's costume made him look terribly portly and old when in fact he is supposed to be a youngish officer and in the duel Lensky looked like he was just leaving the pub in a nasty pair of trousers and mediocre shirt. Although the young Tatyana was beautifully portrayed and a very interesting idea, it certainly got in the way sometimes of the actual drama taking place between the real protagonists. I went away rather disappointed.

  6. James T responded on 3 January 2016 at 2:05pm Reply

    A very interesting, thoughtful and imaginative production, albeit with slightly drab sets, and a misjudgment (I think) to have Gremin witness some of the final duet. Hvorostovsky 'owns' the role currently and it was luxury casting to have Furlanetto as Gremin, a truly great bass. Best of all was Bychkov's masterful conducting - I've travelled far and wide to see him conduct and never been disappointed. I hope that he will be back for Wagner, especially.

  7. Mike Young responded on 3 January 2016 at 2:53pm Reply

    Both my wife & I are fans of Hvorostovsky and want to see more of him at ROH however we were disappointed with this production of Onegin - in particular the contrived set design which was used throughout all 7 scenes and in our opinion failed to work for an opera that is meant to be "seven lyric scenes" - we were also puzzled as to why poor Lensky's dead body remained on the stage throughout the 2 final scenes - after such an excellent performance by Michael Fabiano he did not deserve such a backbreaking conclusion.

  8. Anthony Warshaw responded on 3 January 2016 at 3:11pm Reply

    The music and singing were exquisitely beautiful and will haunt me for ever. However the opera was marred by pointlessly distracting doubles and Lenski's surely stinking corpse lying in the ballroom three years after death. It was also absurd to have Tatiana's husband appear while Onegin was pleading with her to leave him. I realise that the older Onegin and Tatiana are looking back nostalgically on their youth but these things are obvious from the story and do not need to be laid on with a trowel.

    Cav & Pag which musically are not nearly such good operas, though wonderfully played and sung, bowled me over because dramatically they were wholly believable.

  9. The Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House had an impressive cast with distinctive voices and almost perfect Russian pronunciation, as well as great orchestra performance, but unfortunately Kaspen Holten’s concept doesn’t have a national identity. It failed to evoke the right images of Russian life, nature, relations, places for me as a Russian!

    Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera in current production is stereotyped, gloomy, hectic and static at the same time. The use of doubles as Onegin and Tatyana are looking back on their missed life opportunity might be seen as an interesting one but it does fit neither the music nor the libretto. It just complicates the performance and contradicts Tchaikovsky’s desire to simplicity.

    For Russians the Eugene Onegin is part of our heritage and culture. It is unlikely to meet anyone who never learned Pushkin’s verse novel or do not know Tatiana’s and Onegin’s letters by heart. In my view the main characters of the opera were quite different from those we know from our childhood.

    Tatiana has lost the image of a contemplative naive girl. Lensky’s best aria was tense. A bored Onegin was shown as a drunken person in the final scenes. The peasants that were serfs in 19th century Russia were humiliating Tatiana: sorry but they should be picking up the berries in the Tatiana’s garden as they have to sing to avoid eating harvest.

    The space in the stage is hardly used, the scenic design is dull, the costumes are awful. All splendid and lavish parts are missing. The two balls are filled with a mass of people hardly representing the local society or aristocracy.

    Tatyana’s dressing in red and crowds in black again represents overdramatic Holten’s interpretation of Pushkin and Tchaikovsky. It might give a reference to some sort of conflict, class tensions or even rebellion. None of this matches the lyric opera.

    I don’t mind modern interpretations of Russian classics as, for example, Peter Wright’s Anna Karenina. But Holten’s production of Eugene Onegin has been very confusing and very disappointing. I honestly hope the Royal Opera House will make available to the British audience some masterpiece productions of Russian operas, like War and Peace by Andrei Konchalovsky.

  10. John R responded on 3 January 2016 at 4:19pm Reply

    I know that this production has created a lot of negative reaction, but I thought it was an interesting idea, which probably worked better when the production was new (when the Tatiana was a somewhat older soprano) than this time round. I thought that Nicole Car was excellent and it was an outstanding debut from Michael Fabiano, and I look forward to hearing much more from both of these wonderful artists. Orchestra and Chorus were as brilliant as ever!

    • Agree, the cast was good, but the Holten’s production is not organic, it is too focus on a concept rather than the characters. There is new, colourful and dynamic, Onegin production in Maryinsky theatre by Gergiev and Stepanuk that opera lovers should be aware!

  11. Patrick John Gordon Shaw responded on 4 January 2016 at 7:41am Reply

    The production sounds fascinating and how good to see it prompting such different reactions! As ever! It would be singularly dreary if it did not!

    Everyone would seem to concur about the musical performances!

    Bravo to All involved! Let us have it on DVD soon please!!

    • John R responded on 5 January 2016 at 11:02am

      In response to Patrick John Gordon Shaw who asked for a DVD, there is already a DVD of this production which was filmed when it was new in 2013, with Simon Keenlyside as Onegin and Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatyana.

  12. Paul Hope responded on 4 January 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

    This was my first visit to the Royal Opera House. I had great expectations but left a little flat after what I thought was a mixed performance. I am no opera aficionado and it is likely that I chose the wrong opera for my first visit, yet, I was taken in by the beautiful classic music. I did not get confused by the delivery of the opera - it was well constructed in that sense. Yet, the overall grandeur of the spectacle was disappointing - for some reason, I expected more from the RoH. There were wonderful moments in Act 2 and 3 that really enveloped me. Act 1 was a great disappointment - again, I expected more at the front of the opera - maybe my own expectations were too high. This opera, in its current scope, is more for those very keen opera followers versus newcomers like myself. I will be sure to do more due diligence before my next visit.

  13. Hiroko T responded on 4 January 2016 at 2:22pm Reply

    Hvorostovsky was great as he always is.
    I did not have so serious problem with the "blind" that many people complain except for the two specific situations, which are the blind's pistol shooting on his head and appearance of the blind two into the final scene. The worst of this opera is the final scene, where Tatiana, crying with a creepy voice, remained until the last of the opera, where the body of Lensky remained there for more than 40 min, where the big tree branch remained at the front center of the stage that was used at the shoot-out scene, where Gremin appeared there, and where the "blinds" appeared. In particular, the appearance of Gremin makes the opera into a bulgar love-triangle. The opera Onegin should be drawn with more noble tone.

  14. Anna Woda responded on 4 January 2016 at 6:12pm Reply

    What a wonderful way to start the new year! Dmitri Hrovostovsky was sublime as always - but then I am a massive fan. I was so impressed especially as he is still being treated for a brain tumour. What a trooper and what a star! I do hope he comes back to the ROH soon! Michael Fabiano and Nicole Car richly deserved the applause, cheers and bravos of the audience on 2nd January. Bychkov's conducting of the orchestra produced the most lush sound I have heard for a long time, and well done the chorus. All this was utter bliss! Sadly I do agree with other commentators that the production was not great. The "doubles" while not confusing, were really not necessary for understanding the plot and at times were in the way of it. I also feel that the staging and costumes were somewhat parsimonious, though again sadly this is now quite common at the ROH. The drama and elegance one expects from a Russian Ball was sadly lacking, and surely the main protagonists could have had a change of dress in the four years time frame!! None of this spoilt my evening but it could have been so much better.

  15. Jan Leigh responded on 5 January 2016 at 12:25am Reply

    I saw this tonight and really enjoyed it. Singing, staging and orchestra all on fine form. I certainly wouldn't call it bland. Thank you Kasper, and best wishes for the future.

  16. Philippa responded on 12 January 2016 at 9:42pm Reply

    The concept was clear, but the delivery was so hopelessly muddled that it was impossible to suspend disbelief, and it actually distanced me from the emotional moments. The letter scene became about the older looking all sad at the younger, and neither were emotionally connecting to writing a letter to Onegin at all. Later at the ball the older Onegin was challenged to a duel, but we got to the duel only to have it announced that "Onegin isn't here yet", although he was standing by the pillar! Apparently at this moment the young Onegin was the one we were looking for, although he had been completely absent from the ball. It made no sense, whatsoever, and was a distracting and inconsistent stamp over what would have been an emotional evening, if only I had been allowed to connect with at least one character. It is the first time I have been left entirely unmoved by the music - a feat I had not thought possible.

  17. Ann O'Shaughnessy responded on 16 January 2016 at 6:03pm Reply

    I love this opera but still hate this production. First time round it was confusing as well as unpleasant. second time round, understanding did not help me accept the way it was presented. So many things I hated have already been noted by others - a mess.

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