Tchaikovsky’s Enduring Masterpiece Eugene Onegin With Anna Netrebko and Peter Mattei Comes to Great Performances at the Met Sunday, August 13 at 12 p.m. on PBS
Anna Netrebko reprises one of her most acclaimed roles as Tatiana, the naïve heroine of Tchaikovsky’s opera, adapted from Pushkin’s classic verse novel. Peter Mattei stars as the title character, who rejects Tatiana’s love until it’s too late. Eugene Onegin airs on Great Performances at the Met Sunday, August 13 at 12 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). (In New York, THIRTEEN will air the opera at 12:30 p.m.)
Robin Ticciati, music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, conducts the revival of Deborah Warner’s staging. Alexey Dolgov sings the role of Onegin’s friend-turned-rival, Lenski, with Elena Maximova as Tatiana’s sister, Olga, and Štefan Kocán as Prince Gremin.
The opera received its world premiere at the Maly Theater, Moscow, 1879 in a student performance. The professional premiere occurred at the Bolshoi Theater in 1881. Tchaikovsky’s many moods—tender, grand, melancholy—are all given free rein in Eugene Onegin.
The opera is based on Pushkin’s iconic verse novel, which re-imagines the Byronic romantic anti-hero as the definitive bored Russian aristocrat caught between convention and ennui; Tchaikovsky, similarly, took Western European operatic forms and transformed them into an authentic and undeniably Russian work. At the core of the opera is the young girl Tatiana, who grows from a sentimental adolescent into a complete woman in one of the operatic stage’s most convincing character developments.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) enjoyed tremendous fame during his lifetime as a composer of symphonic music and ballets. His operas have achieved a steadily growing popularity outside of Russia. The libretto for Eugene Onegin was largely put together by the composer himself, with help from his brother Modest (1850–1916) and others.
The source of the libretto is the mock-epic verse novel of the same name by Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837), whose position in Russian literature can be compared only to that of Shakespeare in English.
Pushkin presents a vast overview of old Russian society around 1820, which Tchaikovsky’s original score neatly divides into each of its three acts: from the timeless rituals of country life to the rural gentry with its troubles and pleasures and, finally, the glittering imperial aristocracy of St. Petersburg. The Met’s production places the action in the later 19th century, around the time of the opera’s premiere.
Critics enthused about this production. The New York Times observed, “The charismatic baritone Peter Mattei sounded lustrous as the title character, vividly conveying Onegin’s transformation from the aloof, coldhearted bachelor who patronizingly rejects Tatiana to the heartbroken man who realizes, too late, that he loves her.” And The Huffington Post said “Netrebko, singing at the top of her power, is a natural for the role of Tatiana … Robin Ticciati conducted the excellent Met Orchestra in an inspired reading of the score … A poignant and anguished account of lost love.”
Soprano Renée Fleming hosts the broadcast.
Production: Deborah Warner. Set Designer: Tom Pye. Costume Designer: Chloe Obolensky. Lighting Designer: Jean Kalman. Video Designers: Ian William Galloway, Finn Ross. Choreographer: Kim Brandstrup. Revival Stage Director: Paula Williams.
Eugene Onegin was originally seen live in movie theaters on April 22 as part of the groundbreaking The Met: Live in HD series, which transmits live performances to more than 2,000 movie theaters and performing arts centers in over 70 countries around the world. The Live in HD series has reached a record-breaking 22 million viewers since its inception in 2006.
Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®. Major funding for the Met Opera presentation is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This Great Performances presentation is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, The Agnes Varis Trust, and public television viewers.
For the Met, Gary Halvorson directs the telecast. David Frost is Music Producer. Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.
Visit Great Performances online at www.pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
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THE METROPOLITAN OPERA is America’s leading performing arts organization and a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. The company presents more than 200 performances each season of a wide variety of operas, ranging from early masterpieces to contemporary works. In recent years, the Met has launched many initiatives designed to make opera more accessible, most prominently the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions, which dramatically expands the Met audience by allowing select performances to be seen in more than 2,000 theaters in more than 70 countries around the world.