Blazing with deep emotions and striking music, Kasper Holten’s production of Eugene Onegin instantly takes hold of your attention and never lets go during a story of burning passions and poignancy.
The story centres on the love Tatyana has for Eugene, the opera’s namesake, who retracts her actions which he later regrets leading them both down different paths of despair. Tatyana’s yearnings are aguishly expressed through her younger counterpart, the personification of her tortured mentality reflected through a wave of intense emotions. This was one of the “seven lyrical scenes”, a definition Tchaikovsky referred to his adaptation of the opera from Alexander Pushkin’s novel of the same name. Each of these lyrical scenes held its own poignant reflection particularly in Eugene Onegin’s latter stages when Eugene reflects on the pain of killing his best friend Lensky. Emoting the hesitation of Lensky, still hoping a resolution can be reached before Eugene vainly reached out to his young counterpart knowing the tragedy cannot be stopped, it was impossible not to be drawn by Eugene’s despair which made this production of Eugene Onegin highly enthralling.
Yet this is not everyone’s opinion. Some have felt Kasper Holten’s production lacks the spirit of previous versions of Eugene Onegin, Holten’s inclusion of Tatyana’s and Eugene’s younger counterparts being a main criticism. Though I would never describe myself as an experienced viewer of opera, having these younger counterparts was a positive addition to reflecting upon the themes of love, lust and despair striving through the lyrics. In fact every aspect to this production was conducting with perfection. Tchaikovsky’s music brewing emotions, the stage lighting articulating various sections of time and space and performances from all the major players sharing a connection with each another bringing Eugene Onegin vividly onto the stage was a memerising delight.