Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
3 June to 7 July
3, 5, 11, 16, 18, 25, 29 June
1, 5, 7 July
Start time 6.00pm
Pre-Performance Talk (£12)
5 July, 4.30pm
Tatyana, a bookish country girl, yearns for more than the compromise and routine of provincial family life. Hoping she has met her true fate in Eugene Onegin, a brilliant and glamorous society bachelor visiting from Moscow, she pours out her love for him in an impulsive and passionate letter, setting off an inexorable and tragic chain of events.
Based on Alexander Pushkin’s great verse novel of the same name, Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera gives exquisite voice to the casualties of love, the victims in the battle between raw emotion and social convention. Tchaikovsky’s own pain, frustration and loss find expression here in some of his most haunting and beautiful music.
Conductor Douglas Boyd, director Michael Boyd and designer Tom Piper bring Tchaikovsky’s fateful romance to life this summer, with Roderick Williams and Natalya Romaniw making their role debuts.
Madame Larina and the old nursemaid, Filippyevna, remember their youth while the peasants on the estate are hard at work bringing in the harvest. Tatyana, the widowed Madame Larina’s eldest daughter, spends her time reading and dreaming, while her younger sister, Olga, plans to marry the poet Vladimir Lensky, their nearest neighbour. Lensky comes to visit, bringing with him his friend, Eugene Onegin. Tatyana is convinced that he is the man of her dreams.
Tatyana stays awake throughout the night, writing a love letter to Onegin. When morning comes she persuades Filippyevna to deliver it.
Onegin returns Tatyana’s letter, telling her that he is unable to respond to such an impetuous outpouring of emotion: love and marriage are not for him.
It is Tatyana’s nameday and friends and neighbours have gathered to celebrate. A Frenchman, Monsieur Triquet, sings an ode to Tatyana. Angered at being dragged to the party by Lensky and maddened by the guests’ assumptions, coupling him with Tatyana, Onegin dances all night with Olga. Lensky is furiously jealous and, losing his temper, challenges his friend to a duel. Onegin accepts.
Zaretsky, Lensky’s second in the duel, complains that their opponent is late. Lensky meditates on his love for Olga and the prospect of death. Onegin arrives and, although both he and Lensky are full of remorse and regret, they are unable to reach a reconciliation to avoid the duel. Lensky is killed.
Onegin has been travelling abroad since the duel. On his return to St Petersburg he attends a grand ball and encounters Prince Gremin, who introduces his young wife, Tatyana. Onegin falls hopelessly in love with her.
Tatyana reads a love letter from Onegin, which has stirred up the memories of everything that has gone before. When Onegin implores her to respond to his passion Tatyana admits that she still loves him. But it is too late: she is now married and must honour the promises she has made to her husband. Onegin despairs.