Thursday, 11 July 2019

She turns me on, don't get me wrong

“He who has lived and thought can't help
despising people in his soul;
him who has felt disturbs 
the ghost of irrecoverable days;
for him there are no more enchantments;
him does the snake of memories, 
him does repentance bite.” 

- Alexander Pushkin

And so to the opera. I have been to see a production of 'Eugene Onegin' that was in complete contrast to the previous time I had seen it. Where that had been set on a domestic and familiar scale this had all the opulence of late Imperial Russia, just before they all got their just desserts. It is of course a wonderful piece of late-Romantic music and it got the full treatment from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, the principals and the chorus. I'm going to single out Joshua Bloom's Prince Gremin for special praise although they were all good. What really impressed me was the lighting design which made extensive use of reflection and, particularly, silhouette. All in all it was easy to see why no budget had been left over for the staging of the Caldara piece I mentioned yesterday.

I have to mention however that the behaviour of Onegin and Lensky is no more admirable or sensible when played out among the upper classes of St Petersburg than it is when set amongst the youth of North London. And I've always wondered why when Tatyana is rejecting Onegin in the final act she never mentions the impact his actions must have had on the life of her sister Olga. She is, sadly, no less selfish than the men.

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