Eugene Onegin, Glyndebourne, May 2014Posted on 19 May 2014
A revival of Graham Vick’s successful Onegin production opened the second night of the Glyndebourne season, with the London Philharmonic under the very capable baton of Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber playing with energy and passion.
In the first two acts the Lensky of Edgaras Montvidas stole the show. Partly trained in the Royal Opera’s young artists programme, this Lithuanian tenor showed great charm on his first entrance, singing passionately to Olga, and after the outburst against Onegin in Act II his regretful V vashem dome! (In your house!) to Madame Larina was delivered with lovely sensitivity and feeling. And finally, before the fatal duel, his poetic soliloquy on the lost days of youth came through with huge emotional impact.
As Olga, the minx-like Ekaterina Sergeeva sang with delightful power, even joining in the peasant dancing in Act I — a nice touch. Ron Howell’s very apt choreography for this, reminiscent of Nijinska’s ballet Les Noces, was beautifully performed, as was the joyous dancing during the Act II party scene as the guests swirl in, around and out of the two large doorways. And in addition to the guests’ dancing in Act III we even had a classical pas-de-deux performed by Joseph Caley and Jenna Roberts of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
In Act III after the excellent Prince Gremin of Taras Shtonda has delivered his monologue to Onegin on the joys of love and marriage to a younger woman, Andrei Bondarenko and Ekaterina Scherbachenko finally came into their own as Onegin and Tatyana. His romantically vocal lyricism and the dramatic power of her voice and presence formed a glorious ending to the evening.
Graham Vick’s simple production, with its careful attention to details of acting and performance for all characters, is a joy. Diana Montague and Irina Tchistjakova were excellent as Madame Larina and Filippyevna, Scott Conner showed great vocal and stage presence as Lensky’s second Zaretsky, and François Piolino did a fine job as Monsieur Triquet, surely one of the most irritating characters in opera. As he was singing his fatuous paean to Tatyana in Act II, Onegin whisked Olga off in front of her eyes, just one more example of Vick’s wonderful attention to detail.
Superb singing and movement from the chorus, and Omer Meir Wellber’s conducting beautifully brought out the passion and charm of Tchaikovsky’s score.
Performances continue on various dates until July 11 — for details click here.