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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

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Pyotr Ilych TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eugene Onegin

Lyric scenes in three acts.
Libretto by Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky after the novel by Alexander Pushkin
Onegin (played by Michal Docolomanský) …….. Bernd Weikl
Tatyana (played by Magdaléna Vásáryová) ……..Teresa Kubiak
Lensky (played by Emil Horváth)……………… Stuart Burrows
Olga (played by Kamila Magálová)……………….Julia Hamari
Filipyevna (played by Vasta Fabiánová)…………..Enid Hartle
Triquet (played by Frantisek Filipovský)………….Michel Sénéchal
Gremin (played by Premysl Kocí)……………… Nicolai Ghiaurov
John Alldis Choir and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden
Conducted by Sir Georg Solti
DECCA 071 124-9 [117 mins]

This production is a wonderful combination of sound and vision. It is a shame that the DVD booklet does not give any production information, e.g. where it was filmed, about Petr Weigl’s beautifully shot film that so cleverly evokes the atmosphere and the drama of this, the most popular and melodic of Tchaikovsky’s operas.

The sets and costumes, particularly for the two ballroom scenes, are sumptuous, a feast for the eye. Tatyana and Olga are played most convincingly: Magálová’s Olga is sweet and carefree and just coquettish enough to arouse Lensky’s jealousy; while Tatyana (Vásáryová) matures from the ingenuous innocent who spills out her heart to the cold, ennui-filled Onegin, to the regal noblewoman who has the strength to ultimately reject him. Docolomanský as Onegin is rather too cold and remote even when his heart melts in the last scene - and frankly, one feels, rather too old to stir a young girl’s passions, Horváth’s Lensky, on the other hand, is splendid as the jealous, hot-tempered Lensky.

Solti’s Covent Garden recording is magnificent. (Again the booklet gives no clue as to the filming or recording dates other than the markings: © Mediascope 1988 and P 1990 Decca Music Group Limited). Kubiak is a most sensitive Tatyana, heart-rending in her famous letter song, innocently yet ardently pouring out her fears and yearning. Burrows is equally convincing as the ill-fated Lensky eloquently regretful, bemoaning his rashness and his fate in his aria just prior to the duel in which he is felled by Onegin. Weikl instils pride and disdain in his lead role as the cold-hearted Onegin, progressing through despair to remorse and passion in the final scenes. Hamari is an Olga full of joie de vivre and Nicolai Ghiaurov is magnificent, proud and noble in his small role as Tatyana’s elderly husband, Prince Gremin.

The Royal Covent Garden Orchestra deliver sympathetic and tellingly dramatic support. Their ballroom dances are crisp, especially the well-known Polonaise and the John Alldis Choir shine in their peasant and ball guest choruses.

A spellbinding production that is a real feast for the eye and the ear.

Ian Lace


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