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.