Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eugene Onegin in Portland


Eugene Onegin....Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Tatiana.................Renée Fleming
Lensky..................Ramón Vargas
Olga....................Elena Zaremba
Prince Gremin......Sergei Aleksashkin

Conductor...............Valery Gergiev
Production..............Robert Carsen

This is what opera is about. Those of us who go to opera whenever we can are waiting to see this: Eugene Onegin from the Metropolitan Opera with Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin and Renée Fleming as Titania.

The reason everyone thinks Renée Fleming isn't doing any of her interpretive quirks in this opera is because this is the style her quirks are designed for. This is Renée Fleming at her very best. She also brought out the best in Dmitri, getting him fully engaged in the action. The opera was involving and heartrending.

Juan Vargas as Lensky and all the other singers were also very fine. And need I mention that Valery Gergiev was wonderful? It was the best that opera has to offer.

The production was a kind of compromise minimalism that worked for me. There were no real sets. In the scenes in the first act, through the scene where Onegin rejects Titania with an absurd arrogance, the set consists of some suggestions of trees, a trap door in the stage and piles of leaves. In the second half chairs suggested scenes.

This style of production focuses the attention on the actors. When they deliver, it works, and this time it was perfection. The costumes were period and very beautiful. Dmitri in particular looked gorgeous. He is such a beautiful man.

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