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Subject: Re: Eugene Onegin (formerly X )
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:15:22 -0400
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I would say it's not a waste of time, if only in the fact that we can get to take the time 
truly examine and praise a worthy work of art. We all spend so much time looking at the 
negative (such is, like it or not, the temptation of the internet lol) - isn't it nice to have a 
thread where we all can talk about something we love? :-)

A few moments that make this opera special for me, in addition to the ones we'd normally 
mention:

Imagine saying that I’m going to write an opera, where Act I will start with a double duet. 
Ok, cool. But then I say, well, the beautiful melodic theme will be sung *only* offstage by 
2 women, while 2 other women have a sort of chatty, sometimes unmelodic conversation 
onstage at the same time. Crazy, huh? But that’s how Onegin opens, and – it works! That 
bittersweet, gorgeous duet sung by the 2 sisters makes its impact, and though there are 
moments where the chattering of Mom and Nurse threaten to get in its way, there’s still a 
marvelous sense of counterpoint/contrast which makes the music unique. Also, of course, 
if you get to know the text of the Larina/Filipyevna conversation, it nicely lays out a harsh 
moral which will relate all too well to the story to come – youthful fancy is fine, but then 
you learn to grow up. 

Another favorite moment for me is the start of Act I scene 2. Not the Letter Scene to 
come, but the true opening music of the scene. The whole string section, muted (playing 
loudly but with that unique plaintive sound mutes can produce), playing figures that end 
in dissonant, dramatic suspensions. Even a little “melodramatic” as we tend to use the 
term nowadays. But, such an apt musical description of an impressionable youth dealing 
with their first crush. Mozart has Cherubino describe his similar confused feelings (in “Non 
So Piu”) in fast, breathless phrases – Strauss has Octavian and Sophie fall in love at first 
sight in music that seems to gloriously suspend time. But for Tatiana, steeped in her 
romance novels, it’s done with the heartbreaking agony of clashing chords. And it’s 
perfection. (Tchaikovsky uses the same kind of harmonic device in “The Queen Of 
Spades,” at the opening of the scene where Ghermann sneaks into the Countess’ 
bedroom. Here those suspensions are underpinned by restless violas playing a fast 
ostinato, and the basses providing sneaky “footsteps.” The effect of the music in this case 
is sneaky and suspenseful, but those dissonant figures in the rest of the strings speak to 
Ghermann’s obsession – not far from the feelings Tatiana has for Onegin in the Letter 
Scene.)

And then, the duet before the duel. The two men singing a measure apart in a true 
musical canon, but their music is also a 3rd apart (the intervals are all similar throughout, 
but they’re essentially in different “keys” in a way) – the 2 former friends wanting to 
agree with each other, but the music won’t let them. Until the moment they finally sing at 
the same time in arching phrases – and yet still a 3rd apart – but still as if they’re trying 
to bond one last time. But then, those 4 damning “Nyet”s seal the deal. To me, this duet 
is really one of the most aching moments in the whole opera. (Of course, with more 
drama to come in the opera’s final duet.)

With such dramatically aware and well-thought out music like this, what in the world can 
there possibly be to complain about? It’s a beautiful score, and even moreso, it does what 
I think opera has always strived to do – it captures the human condition in ways that 
music does so uniquely. 




On Wed, 23 Aug 2017 14:05:08 -0500, Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I'm totally confounded by the "get Onegin" thread here.  I've always thought it to be on 
of the most beautiful gems of the operatic repertoire.  I find the music lush, the story 
moving, and the whole opera very beautiful. I've seen it performed several times, have 
three recordings of it, and I never tire of it.  It seems that every so often, a well known 
opera gets "gang banged" and lots of people hop on the bandwagon.  Where does this 
come from?  Who dreams this stuff up?  Lastly, who is in such an august position to 
proclaim whether an opera is good or bad?  Is it an attempt to stir up a hornet's nest just 
to receive attention?
>     I stand with Ray Gounin on this one.  The whole thread is a waste of time, as far as 
I'm concerned.
>> On August 23, 2017 at 11:07 AM RAYMOND GOUIN <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>> 
>> 
>> Katalin -
>> 
>> I don't have a comment in response to the content.  Just sick and tired of seeing this 
opera unendingly, maliciously maligned by a never-ending repeat of the subject title used 
by the creep (and that is what he is) that posted the initial message in this thread.  I am 
sure that he is laughing (from his padded cell?) every time that he sees his libel reposted.
>> 
>> Best.
>> Ray
>> 
>> ***
>> 
>> 
>> > On August 23, 2017 at 9:56 AM Katalin Mitchell <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>> > 
>> > 
>> > That was the most beautiful Onegin I ever saw and nothing will compare to it. 
Renee and Dimas last scene was pure heartbreak... which is why I could never warm to 
Anna's performance whether with Kwieczen or Mattei, not to mention that hideous and 
overbearing new set.
>> > What was wrong with autumn leaves and gilded chairs? They conveyed the time , 
setting and mood perfectly.
>> > 
>> > > On Aug 23, 2017, at 9:15 AM, G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>> > > 
>> > > "Fleming should be lovely."
>> > > 
>> > > She absolutely was.  It was, in my estimation, one of the finest pe
>> > > performances she's given for the company.  One of the loveliest accounts I'
>> > > I've read of it came from, of all people, Garrison Keillor 
>> > > 
>> > > "Mr. Hvorostovsky is tall, cool, handsome and everything that Elvis was 
>> > > hoping to be, and Miss Fleming’s bare left shoulder is more erotic than 
Madonna na
>> > > Madonna naked and when she puts her hand to her bodice, she makes my 
nostrils t
>> > > nostrils twitch. "
>> > > 
>> > > The entire review is worth reading and can be found here.
>> > > 
>> > > http://www.salon.com/2007/02/28/keillor_79/
>> > > 
>> > > I think you'll like the performance!
>> > > 
>> > > Best,
>> > > 
>> > > p.
>> > > 
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