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Subject: Re: Eugene Onegin (Not a good opera)
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:04:30 -0400
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I find "Eugene Onegin" to be a profound opera, not superficial or sentimental at all.  In 
addition to the extraordinary letter scene and the duel, there is that very moving little scene 
between Onegin and Tatiana, in which Onegin is trying to be kind to her in a condescending 
way, and she is so humiliated, having made herself completely vulnerable with her letter 
and now finding herself not only rejected, but patronized.  Now that is very true to life.  
Which of us has not been in that position at some time - on either side of the dialogue?

But the greatest scene of all, IMO, and one with has genuine human tragedy, is the final 
scene between Onegin and Tatiana.  No melodrama here, just human truth: two people who 
might have been happy together but the timing was wrong and they missed the boat, and 
now they will go on, separately, with their unhappy lives.  I also find Tatiana's rejection of 
Onegin one of the most admirable things in all opera.  She does what's right, not "what her 
heart tells her."  She's married, she has not only her own reputation and position to 
consider but also her husband's, as well as his love for her.  That is a very "un-modern" 
response - choosing principle over feeling and "what makes me happy."  I also love the 
irony that Onegin's final words ("How painful! how humiliating") are the same words Tatiana 
says to herself in the scene with him earlier in the opera.

Speaking of condescension towards Tchaikovsky's music, there is a funny story about Reiner 
rehearsing the orchestra for Vladimir Horowitz's Silver Jubilee concert of the Tchaikovsky 
Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1953.  Apparently Reiner did not have enough time to rehearse the 
orchestra beyond the first measures.  He told the orchestra, "Well, the music is all shit 
anyway.  Just follow the pianist and do what he does."

MDW

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