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Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Shilovsky after the poetic novel of the same name by Alexander Pushkin
Musical Director and Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Stage Director: Alexei Stepanyuk
Set Designer: Alexander Orlov
Costume Designer: Irina Cherednikova
Musical Preparation: Larisa Gergieva
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Choreographer: Ilya Ustyantsev
Lighting Designer: Alexander Sivaev
Conductor: Zaurbek Gugkaev
Eugene Onegin: Dmitry Lavrov
Tatyana: Maria Bayankina
Lensky: Yevgeny Akhmedov
Olga: Irina Shishkova
Prince Gremin: Edward Tsanga
World premiere: 17 March 1879, Maly Theatre, Moscow
Premiere of this production: 2 February 2014, Mariinsky II
Co-production between the Mariinsky Theatre and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Bejing)
Scene 1. The Larin family estate. Mrs Larina’s daughters can be heard singing – Tatiana, always thoughtful and dreaming, and Olga, playful and flirtatious. Their young voices remind their mother and the nursemaid of their own former youth.
Evening falls. Long drawn-out singing can be heard; the harvest complete, the peasants bring their mistress a decorated sheaf of wheat according to custom. Unexpectedly guests appear – it is the young poet Lensky, Olga’s fiancé and the Larins’ neighbour, and Onegin, his friend and a man of the world. He has recently arrived from St Petersburg and is already bored with the country. The arrival of the guests rouses curiosity. Everyone looks at the new arrival with interest.
Onegin is surprised at Lensky’s choice of bride: “If I were a poet like you I should choose another.” Tatiana is deeply perturbed by her meeting with Onegin. Once alone with Olga, Lensky declares his love for her.
Scene 2. Night-time. Tatiana is overflowing with the new emotion that has so unexpectedly gripped her. In vain, Filippevna the nursemaid attempts to dispel Tatiana’s pensiveness by telling her about days gone by. All Tatiana’s thoughts are of Onegin; he has stirred the heart of this provincial girl. Tatiana asks her nursemaid to leave her. Absorbed by this hitherto unknown passion, Tatiana writes a letter to Onegin: “You appeared to me in a dream, unseen, and were dear to me...”
Gradually dawn begins to break. A shepherd’s horn blows. Tatiana begs her nursemaid to deliver the letter to Onegin.
Scene 3. The voices of servant girls can be heard in the distance. Tatiana is waiting for Onegin. The young girl is seized with confusion: “Oh, why did I heed my wretched soul, unable to control myself, why did I write that letter?” But it is too late! Onegin is already here, in the garden. His words form, cold and passionless. He is touched by Tatiana’s sincerity, but cannot return the feeling. Civilly returning Tatiana her own letter, Onegin reproaches her lack of care: “Learn to control yourself; not everyone would understand you like I; inexperience leads to disaster.”
Scene 1. A ball is being held at the Larins’ house. Many guests have come to celebrate Tatiana’s name-day party. Triquet, a Frenchman, sings some couplets in Tatiana’s honour. Onegin is driven to utter boredom with the provincial ball and its gossip and idle chatter. He upbraids Lensky: “Why did I come to this ridiculous ball? Why? I shan’t forgive Vladimir for this!” Onegin begins to pay court to Olga. Lensky is indignant at his friend’s behaviour and his fiancée’s coquettish and frivolous manner. During a mazurka, a quarrel develops. Insulted and in a fit of pique and despair, Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel. The guests try in vain to reconcile the two friends.
Scene 2. A cold frosty morning, and Lensky has come to the place where the duel will take place. Sad and pained at the forthcoming duel, he thinks “What does the coming day hold for me? I can’t imagine what will be...” Zaretsky, Lensky’s second, is awaiting Onegin. Onegin finally arrives; the preparations for the duel are complete, but the former friends tarry. Both understand the absurdity of what has happened: “Should we not laugh before our hands are stained with blood, and part as friends?” But no! The seconds show the two adversaries to their places. Zaretsky gives the signal to start. A shot rings out. Lensky falls. Onegin is horrified to see he is dead.
Scene 1. Guests are assembling for a ball at a mansion in St Petersburg; Onegin, home from his travels around Europe, is there too. Neither changes of scenery nor high society have dispelled his anguish. Prince Gremin and his wife arrive and Onegin recognises her to be Tatiana. The Prince cordially tells him of his happy marriage and introduces Tatiana. Onegin is staggered – surely this noble and refined society lady is not the same girl to whom he once read a moral admonition? Onegin uneasily admits to himself: “Alas, there’s no doubt, I’m in love, in love like a boy, a passionate youth!”
Scene 2. The last encounter between Onegin and Tatiana. His words are full of confession and repentance. But the past cannot be revisited. Calling on Onegin’s honour and pride, Tatiana asks him to leave her: “To another by fate have I been given, I will never leave him.” Onegin’s entreaties are all in vain. Ultimately he understands that he has lost Tatiana forever. Onegin is left alone: “Ignominy! Anguish! Oh, my pitiable fate!”