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Subject: FT Met 'Onegin' review
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 3 Apr 2017 11:32:34 -0700

text/plain (36 lines)

[In a lifetime of "Onegin" experience - 'twas very big in Budapest of my youth - I never heard and saw a more wonderful production than the Temirkanov-conducted/directed one in San Francisco -]

Eugene Onegin
Metropolitan Opera, New York


If events had gone as planned – which is seldom the case in the wondrous world of opera – the performance of "Eugene Onegin" on Thursday would have signaled the reunion of the gutsy Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky with the glamourous Russian soprano Anna Netrebko. Sadly, Hvorostovsky is suffering some serious medical problems and, at least for the time being, has cancelled all stage commitments. The Met came up with an honourable substitute in Mariusz Kwiecien of Krakow, Poland. Still, it would be less than realistic to call this ideal casting.

     Netrebko, equally lush vocally and theatrically, seems bigger than life onstage. Kwiecien cannot.

     He meets the challenge with uncommon passion, a poignant sense of desperation and welcome clarity of projection. Give him that. What he cannot do, alas, is command the scene with unbridled power. Netrebko did her best to hold back in his favour, when possible, but she found no ally in the pit. Robin Ticciati, the British maestro on duty, dealt in wild extremes of tempo and volume, sometimes leaving both orchestra and singers in contextual discord.

     The staging, shared with the ENO, is attributed to Deborah Warner. Introduced in 2013, it is now officially revived by Paula Williams, who keeps the characters and their clashing dilemmas in neat focus. The same cannot be claimed for Tom Pye’s surface-pretty designs, which vacillate between simple stylisation and fussy mock-realism. The decors, not incidentally, advance the action, and inaction, from the 1820s, as specified in the libretto, to the late 19th century, ergo Tchaikovsky’s time. No great help, but no great harm.

     The mostly Russian cast, beautifully balanced, included Elena Maximova as a giddily girlish Olga, Alexey Dolgov as smart if thin-toned Lenski and Elena Zaremba as a unshakably sympathetic mother. Larissa Diadkova served yet again as a splendid nursemaid, though Brian Downen missed the satirical delicacy of Monsieur Triquet’s banal couplets. In the final act, Stefan Kocán, a true basso profondo at last, strolled on to luxuriate in the descending phrases of Prince Gremin.


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