February 12, 2007


Star Power, Charisma and Ardor in 'Onegin' (ANTHONY TOMMASINI, 2/12/07, NY Times)

The Metropolitan Opera's affecting revival of its 1997 production of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," which opened on Friday night, is all the more impressive because it might have turned out so differently. In a risky move, the production brought major Russian artists steeped in their national operatic heritage together with two Met stars making brave forays into far-afield repertory.

The Russian maestro Valery Gergiev conducted, in his first Met performance of this work, Tchaikovsky's best-known operatic masterpiece. It is an adaptation of Pushkin's novel in verse about the dashing, worldly and aloof Onegin, who learns too late from a bookish, love-struck young woman that life will pass him by unless he dares to be emotionally vulnerable. In addition this was the first Met Onegin for the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was born to play the role.

Going into Friday's performance the question mark hovered over the soprano Renée Fleming, singing Tatiana, her first Russian role at the Met. Even Ms. Fleming's fans can at times be mystified by her deeply personal (some would say mannered) interpretive strokes. But the challenges of singing a role in Russian seemed to rein her in, while Tchaikovsky's impassioned and elegant idiom ideally suited her richly emotional singing. Ms. Fleming's sympathetic, exquisitely sung Tatiana was a major achievement for her.

Alone, Again (JAY NORDLINGER, February 12, 2007, NY Sun)
Tchaikovsky's masterpiece "Eugene Onegin" returned to the Metropolitan Opera on Friday night, in Robert Carsen's 1997 production. This is the "Onegin" with autumn leaves on the stage -- millions of them. Mr. Carsen's production is spare, despite that abundance of leaves; but it is also unlacking. And that makes it a very rare production indeed.

In the role of Tatiana was America's Sweetheart, or, for this occasion, Russia's Sweetheart: the soprano Renée Fleming. She is an amazing combination of voice and technique -- plus a generous amount of theatrical ability. And she was in very good shape on Friday night.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 12, 2007 12:00 AM

If Renée Fleming is performing, it is a not to be missed performance.

Posted by: Mike at February 12, 2007 9:43 PM