Canceling a Tchaikovsky opera is nothing short of a cardinal sin for an opera house. But this is how the Liceu had to do it in the middle of the pandemic, when it was impossible to consider opening the 2020-21 season with a large orchestra like the one it demands. Onegin. This story of romanticism inflamed by the signs of the times but stifled by social conventions – as emanated from Pushkin’s acclaimed novel, one of the best-known works of Russian literature – finally arrives at the Rambla theater four years later and the Liceu having registered notable changes in its budget – from 38.5 million euros at that time to 52.6 million for the season that is now beginning – and having gone from 13,000 to 17,000 subscribers, which, as points out the general director of the house, Valentí Oviedo, it is a sign of the enthusiasm that the institution has been able to transmit through culture in this painful period.
This co-production of the operas from Oslo, Barcelona and Madrid (the Real will be discussed later) is stage directed by Christof Loy, a guarantee of deep psychological work and an effort to get to the bottom of the matter. That is, understanding in an abstract and timeless way the emotional reasons that move the characters. Expansive romanticism reduced to minimalism. To understand, for example, why the young Tatiana sets out, not only to pour out on paper all the feelings that Eugene Onegin has awakened in her at first sight, but to send the letter to the gentleman who has just arrived in a peasant community, boring and eager for new events.
With the melody agitated and full of lyricism, the young woman sings a passionate aria in which all the emotions she had been repressing explode, like a volcano. Which awakens in him an abject rejection, because no matter how beautiful and pleasant the girl is, her declaration of love surpasses him… Which in the end leads him to remorse and the feeling of a lost opportunity to love Tatiana.
“This is an intimate work, a manual of that way of thinking and feeling that is romantic thinking and that still influences people today. In Onegin It also finds a parallel with the life of Tchaikovsky and his wife, with that existence between devotion and obligation. “We are facing an extraordinary musical metaphor,” says Víctor García de Gomar, artistic director of the Gran Teatre. “Wouldn’t there be a similarity between the letters that Antonina Miliukova addressed to the composer and what Tatiana tells Onegin…?”
Josep Pons musically directs this production performed by Svetlana Aksenova and Kristina Mkhitaryan as Tatiana and with Audun Iversen and Iurii Samiolov in the role of Onegin, the same cast that the opera featured at the Den Norske Opera in Oslo. But it also has a plus: the joint venture between Christof Loy and the German choreographer Andreas Heise, who is in charge of the stage movement… precisely with a composer so relevant to the renaissance of ballet. Here it is about, through seven dancers and actors, and allowing the singers themselves to become contaminated with the dance vocabulary, adding all the colors and nuances to penetrate the psychology and heart of the characters.
The opera opens the course at the Liceu on September 27 and also at the Liceu+Live, on October 8 and 9. The theater also dedicates an exclusive performance to the Under35 community.