In Tchaikovsky’s tragedy Yevgeni Onegin, performed by the Bolshoi Opera at the
Israeli Opera, the tragic is that the lead protagonists are not killed at the
end, but doomed to keep living with their insupportable despair.
Tcherniakov’s direction and sets were minimalist- realistic, abstaining from
crowding the stage with superfluous details, and emphasizing refined
Unlike commonplace crowd scenes, the choir functioned as a living
stage picture. The opera’s predominantly somber mood, despite some ballroom and
comic relief scenes, was poignantly conveyed.
There were some ridiculous
Why Tatiana, in her letter scene, should have thrown
chairs around and sing her solo part on a dinner table, and why the duel should
be fought around the same dinner table, of all places, remained an
In the title role, Audun Iversen sounded
impressive enough to make one understand why Tatiana should have fallen in love
with his sonorous, dark-timbred baritone.
His polite, detached expression
after the letter scene changed into convincingly impassioned emotional outbursts
in his final confrontation with Tatiana, achieving a forceful though hopeless
climax of the opera.
As Tatiana, Ekaterina Schcherbachenko made one
wonder whether she might not have made Onegin fall in love with her bright,
intense, appealing soprano if only she had had an aria already in the first
scene – but then there would have been no opera. She, too, metamorphosed
admirably – from a restrained, gentle girl in the first scene to a dignified,
selfassured personality in the final one.
In the role of Lensky, Alexey
Dolgov’s soft, expressive lyric tenor made his farewell-tolife aria a genuinely
Though a minor role, Mikhail Kazakov, as Gremin,
achieved one of the performance’s high points with his warm, dark bass in his
The Bolshoi Opera Chorus was a major hero of the
Enchanting voices, perfect cohesion and impeccable balance
were reminiscent of Russian-Orthodox church chanting in the opening
Conducted by Vassily Sinaisky, the excellently coordinated Bolshoi
Opera Orchestra excitingly contributed the work’s dramatic tension and emotional