Music ReviewsMUST SEEOperaREVIEWSTom Williams

Eugene Onegin

Lyric scenes in three acts in Russian.

Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Libretto by the composer and Konstantin Skilovsky

After Puchkin’s verse novel of the same name.

Conducted by Alejo  Perez.

Stage Direction by Robert Carsen.

Produced by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

At the Civic Opera House, Chicago.

Wonderful melodies and stunning singing fuel Tchaikovsky’s episodic opera.

Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) wrote  12 opera besides his ballets, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and his famous 1812 Overture.  He was talked into composing an opera from Pushkin’s popular verse novel, Eugene Onegin. First performed by students in Moscow in1879, Eugene Onegin was structured as a lyric opera in scenes (also know as an ‘episodic opera’). Tchaikovsky felt, since most Russians knew the story of  Pushkin’s novel, he could present it in scenes – and with a simple minimalist set. This Lyric production follows that simple design (by Michael Levine) with terrific lighting (by Christine Binder).

Eugene Onegin (baritone Mariusz Kwiecien) is a member of the gentry in Czarist Russia in the early 19th century. He is a flamboyant and amoral wanderer who destroys those nearest to him. The opera’s story concerns Onegin, a selfish hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman’s love (Tatiana sung by soprano Ana Maria Martinez) and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend Vladimir Lensky (tenor Charles Castronovo).

Told in three acts and seven scenes and utilizing a stark empty set, Eugene Onegin is  filled with Tchaikovsky’s most dramatic music rich in emotions that was effectively sung by this wonderful cast. Besides the wonderful turn by Mariusz Kwiecien, we enjoy fine work by Jill Grove as the nanny Filipyevna with Alisa Kolosova singing Olga beautifully. The Lyric  Chorus sounded terrific and Tchaikovsky’s music was nicely conducted by Alejo Perez.

Eugene Onegin is a romantic love story about a selfish hero who is his own worst enemy. The opera is powerful, emotional and stunning with a Tchaikovsky in the hands of world-class artists becomes an artistic success. As the characters are fully developed, we empathize with the woman and question the men.  Tchaikovsky’s opera did boldly enrich a popular work from a beloved poet/novelist. Tchaikovsky’s creative skill with both the libretto and the music added new to Pushkin’s work. The world is the winner as Eugene Onegin is a delightfully engrossing opera.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: February 26, 2017.

Fore more info checkout the Eugene Onegin page at

At the Civic Opera house, 2o N. Wacker, Chicago, IL, call 312-827-5600, tickets 317 – $222, running time is 3 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through March 20, 2017.