Libretto by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky after the novel in verse of the same name by Alexander Pushkin
Stage Director: Irkin Gabitov
Stage Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Principal Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Ballet Master: Tatiana Kapustina
Chorus Master: Sergey Tenitilov
3 hours 10 minutes
performed in Russian
Première of the production: 16 April 1994
From Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s letter to Sergey Taneyev: “I wrote the opera just because I really wanted to set to music everything in Onegin that wants to be set to music. I have been working with great enthusiasm and pleasure, I didn’t care much if there was any movement of any effects... What are effects?! I need people, not puppets: I would be happy to set to an opera, where creatures like me feel something that I understand because I have felt it.”
A lot of outstanding masters of Russian art participated in the Conservatoire production of the opera: Nikolay Rubinstein, Karl Albrecht, Ivan Samarin. The performance didn’t enjoy success, but the significance of the event — the birth of a masterpiece, a new way in art — was evident. Thus, Eugene Onegin received its première at the Maly Theatre in Moscow on 17 March 1879 and was performed by the students of the Moscow Conservatoire.
In January 1881, Onegin was first performed at the professional theatre (the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow) with Pavel Khokhlov starring in the title role. The St Petersburg première of the opera at the Mariinsky Theatre (1887, conducted by Eduard Napravnik) enjoyed even greater success.
In 1888, Eugene Onegin was staged in Prague, then in Hamburg and Vienna (under the baton of Gustav Mahler), in Berlin, in Warsaw, in 1900 it was staged at La Scala in Milan conducted by Arturo Toscanini. By the time there was no theatre in Russia that didn’t have in its repertoire.
Eugene Onegin at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre
- 23 June 1945 (Conductor: Leo Ginzburg, Stage Director: G. Evreinov, Stage Designer: Ivan Nazarov)
- 27 November 1948: Revival of the production of 1945
- 8 December 1953: New production (Conductor: Iosif Aizikovich, Allan Zholents, Stage Director: Lev Mikhailov, Stage Designer: Albin Morozov)
- 18 December 1976: New production (Conductor: Isidor Zak, Stage Director: Margarita Sulimova, Stage Designer: Albin Morozov)
- 16 April 1994: New production (Conductor: Alexey Lyudmilin, Stage Director: Irkin Gabitov, Stage Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev)
The Larins’ country estate. Larina’s daughters — Tatiana and Olga — are heard singing in the house. Listening to them, Larina recollects her youth, nanny Filipievna joins her.
After reaping, the peasants come to honour the owner of the estate and according to the tradition present her a sheaf decorated with flowers and ribbons.
Suddenly guests arrive: a neighbour of the Larins’, the exultant poet Lensky, Olga’s fiancé, who has been passionately in love with her since childhood; he brings Onegin, who has recently arrived from St Petersburg and visits the Larins for the first time.
The guests’ arrival causes confusion. Tatiana is shocked: it’s about Onegin she has been dreaming, waiting for him. Evgeny remarks that out of two sisters Tatiana is the most attractive one. Lensky confesses his love to Olga. Onegin talks to Tatiana but keeps aloof.
Tatiana’s room. The girl is carried away by a new feeling. Tatiana is absorbed in her thoughts, she can’t sleep and asks her nanny to tell something. Tatiana asks, if she her nanny has ever been in love. When she’s alone, Tatiana writes a love letter to Onegin. At dawn Tatiana asks the nanny to send the letter to Onegin.
In the Larins’ garden voices of servant girls are heard, they sing a placid song as they collect berries. Tatiana runs in. She is confused: Onegin has just arrived. They meet in the garden. Onegin has appreciated her open-heartedness. But being open-hearted himself, he disappoints her: he likes her, but he is not the person she’s been dreaming of. Onegin civilly reproaches her lack of care: “Learn to control yourself...”
A ball party at the Larins’ house: they celebrate Tatiana’s name day. Everything — old fashioned clothes, provincial dances, gossips — irritates Onegin, who is used to parties in St Petersburg. He takes it out to Lensky. All evening long, Onegin dances with Olga, making Lensky suffer from jealousy.
Lensky is offended; he asks for explanations and in reaction to Onegin’s irony, indignant, he challenges Onegin to a duel. The guests try to cool him down, but Lensky insults Onegin again and leaves the house.
Lensky arrives at the place of the duel early in the morning. Together with his second, Zaretsky, he is waiting for the adversary. Lensky is mad with pain thinking of the forthcoming duel. Onegin arrives. The preparations for the duel are made, but the former friends tarry. Both understand the absurdity of what has happened. The adversaries are about to forget the insults, but honour concerns win. The seconds show the two adversaries to their places. Onegin is the first to shoot. He kills Lensky.
A ball party at a palace in St Petersburg. Prince Gremin is one of the guests. He encounters Onegin, an old friend of his, who has just returned from abroad. Onegin finds out that Gremin is married to Tatiana Larina. Gremin introduces his friends to his wife. Tatiana recognizes Onegin, but doesn’t show her agitation. Onegin is appalled; he uneasily admits to himself that he is in love “like a boy, a passionate youth!”
A room in Gremin’s house. Tatiana is reading Onegin’s letter. He has been seeking an encounter with her for many days and at last decided to infringe the rules of high society and come to her house uninvited. He suddenly enters the room and sees Tatiana “of the old days”. He kneels at her feet, but “one cannot return their past.” Tatiana asks to leave her: “My fate is determined.” Onegin understands, that he has lost Tatiana forever.