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Subject: Re: "Eugene Onegin" question
From: Nina Gettler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Nina Gettler <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:11:22 +0100

text/plain (160 lines)

Yes, Onegin is indeed bored, but he cultivates this ennui, just as he 
cultivates his persona as a Byronic hero. In the verse novel, we learn 
that after Onegin leaves his estate after the duel, Tatiana goes to his 
house. She finds the prominently placed bust of Lord Byron and looks 
through his books. And she wonders if he is even a real person or merely 
an imitation of the characters of the books he has read.

Onegin's beautiful, passionate music in the last act makes it easy to 
believe that he has changed, that he has opened himself to love. But in 
the verse novel, Pushkin's narrator gives us enough information about 
him to make it quite clear that he is as selfish as he was and wants 
Tatiana because she is no longer the girl who loved him, but the 
indifferent princess (in the verse novel, he pursues her with letters 
that she does not respond to).

Nina Gettler
Graz, Austria

On 1/16/2018 6:00 AM, OPERA-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:21:29 -0500
> From:    "G. Paul Padillo"<[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: "Eugene Onegin" question
> Dennis asks:=20
> =93I pulled into the garage just as the late la Juntwaite was remarking t=
> hat Oneg
> Onegin "tragically learns too late."  Which prompts my question to all of=
>   you:
> you:  DOES HE?=20=20
> Yes.  And no.=20=20
> Tchaikovsky captures the elements of Pushkin=92s romance in an original, =
> and=20
> illustrative way, which encapsulates and intensifies the tale in a way on=
> ly=20
> music is capable of doing.  The title character is a difficult one to pul=
> l off:=20=20
> unlikeable, self-centered, yet when portrayed correctly, we discover=20
> someone not so much cruel as he is merely bored, suffering, as it were,=20=
> from an ennui bordering on depression.  When finally awakened =96 or=20
> or =93cured,=94 if you will =96 it is too late, and therein lies the =93t=
> ragedy.=94=20=20
> It=92s often argued that Onegin never learns his lesson, how a narcissist=
> =20
> cannot change, etc.  BUT, and this may not work for everyone, if we liste=
> n=20
> to what the text and the responsive, sympathetic music Tchaikovsky gives=20=
> him, I see an argument he HAS learned something.  A cruel, self-absorbed=20=
> monster, we now hear a new Onegin singing to music of near feverish=20
> nature how, daily, he=92s haunted by Lenski=92s ghost, we feel his self-r=
> ecrimination and humiliation at his previous treatment of Tatyana and fee=
> l also how his formerly dormant heart is finally stirring.  In today
> recrimination and humiliation at his previous treatment of Tatyana and fe=
> el=20
> also how his formerly dormant heart is finally stirring.  In today=92s po=
> p=20
> culture we=92d say =93he got woke.=94=20=20
> There is, I believe, =93tragedy=94 in that the love between Tatyana and O=
> negin wa
> was never meant to be realized.  While he begs her to leave, she remains =
> fi
> firm in her commitment to her husband, knowing she will always burn for O=
> n
> Onegin.=20=20
> The opera comes full circle when we revisit the words of Filipyevna and=20=
> Madame Larina, Tatyana=92s mother revealing how she while loved one man,=20=
> married another, almost leaving him to follow her passion.  =93Heaven giv=
> es=20
> us habit/routine, in place of happiness.=94=20=20
> * * * *=20
> Mr. Youngman mentions George London's performances in an unfortunate=20
> English translation.  While I agree (though not fond of the translation,=20=
> happy to have a Onegin from then at all), I don=92t think Mr. London had=20=
> much of a chance given the Met=92s history with Tchaikovsky's opera.=20=20=
> The first performances (1920) were in Italian translation and the work wa=
> s=20
> not heard there again until 1957, when it was presented for Mr. London.=20=
> =20
> The first performances in Russian would wait another twenty years, when=20=
> in 1977 it was given with Sherill Milnes, Teresa Zylis-Gara and Nicolai G=
> edda
> Gedda under James Levine.  Of that event, Mike Sullivan, for the AP state=
> d=20
> while it deserved being heard, outside of Russia it will never become an=20=
> operatic standard as =93it simply doesn't pack the theatrical punch that =
> Verdi=20
> and Puccini, for example, bring to many equally silly plots.=94   One can=
>   only=20
> laugh a little today, when, checking on Operabase we can see over several=
> =20
> seasons (2016-2018) 747 performances of 198 productions, in 109 cities.=20=
> =20
> Onegin has become such a beloved opera, one has to wonder how and why=20
> the tides have turned for it since those initial Met performances.  Being=
> =20
> sung in Italian, in an English speaking country probably didn=92t help it=
> s=20
> cause, nor did reviews like James Gibbons Huneker' for The New York=20
> World, wrote as much of Muzio=92s size as he did of the rest of the show.=
> =20=20
> =93The bedroom is dainty, but that bed was surely never intended for the=20=
> robust Claudia Muzio; rather it is suited for the tiny twinkletoes of the=
>   only=20
> Galli, called Rosina . . . looked too massive, too well-fed for a love-lo=
> rn=20
> lass, and she was very much en negligee till the last scene, where she wo=
> re=20
> a flamboyant Empire gown too high-shouldered to be becoming.=20=20
> (Conductor) Mr. Bodanzky did not linger over the syrupy music, for which=20=
> Apollo be praised! The score is of a linked sweetness, long drawn out, bu=
> t=20
> the conductor's vivacious baton and spirited tempi made the music seem=20=
> better than it is . . . after her letter aria Muzio was recalled and bouq=
> uets=20
> abounded. It was all so delightfully transparent and old-fashioned. Henry=
>   James would have described the evening as=20
> James would have described the evening as =91abysmally entertaining.=92"
> I love how much a part of our culture Eugene Onegin has become!
> p.

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