Onegin sings: ‘What a bore it was’. At the Met, it’s exactly that.

Onegin sings: ‘What a bore it was’. At the Met, it’s exactly that.


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2013

Our Manhattan operavores,  Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes, have been to see the Putin team play gay-free Tchaikovsky at the Met. They almost walked out. Read their review here.

onegin met


  • Kenneth Conway says:

    “What are bore they are.”

  • Janet says:

    When a reviewer began the paragraph with “Before seeing Onegin I didn’t read the libretto nor a synopsis….” and the other began writing with “This was my first adult experience with Onegin……”, how can these kind of reviews be taken seriously?

    There are so much rubbish in the classical music industry which include those people who claim to be “expert” journalists but who have absolutely no idea about what they are talking about. If these journalists don’t have even the slightest real knowledge of the musical piece they write about then better not contaminate the music world even more! Great art isn’t about “feeling”, go study first deeply before dare to write garbage!

    • Sasha says:

      Great art isn’t about “feeling”

      You are exactly, precisely wrong on that. Great art is ALL about “feeling”. Studying and researching can help your enjoyment and understanding, to be sure, but a piece of art has to hit you in the heart to be effective, not merely the brain.

  • Daniel Farber says:

    These “reviews” do this blog no credit whatever. It is just perverse of NL to keep printing this stuff.

    • sdReader says:

      They are young people writing frankly. No one is paying them, I assume. Take it for what it is! On the other hand, NL could easily find better reporting from New York for Slipped Disc.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    “What a bore it was” is Elizabeth’s respectable opinion, not a fact.

    • DrewX says:

      Respectable by what standard, exactly? I mean, all humans deserve respect. I’m sure we agree on that. But I don’t much respect the opinions of dilettantes, in general, and I have yet to see a reason not to consider them as such.

      • Petros LInardos says:

        I have no problem with opinions of any level, as long as they don’t claim to be something they aren’t. Shawn and Elizabeth speak of their personal reactions (which I respect), without claiming authority.

        But I strongly object if people confuse confuse opinion with fact: that’s exactly what I find in Norman’s headline in this blog entry.

  • I I Davies says:

    That’s strange, I went on opening night and really enjoyed it…fabulous singing and playing not to mention Chloe Oboelnsky’s beautiful costumes, Tom Pye’s detailed set and Jean Kalman’s inspirational lighting. But what do I know.

  • Andrew Rudin says:

    Not sure what the tabloidish “gay-free” is supposed to mean, but this ONEGIN certainly was not.

    In addition to having of course been written by a gay man, both women who share the director

    credit are gay, as is one of the leading men. And there were any number of gay people in the

    orchestra and chorus, and undoubtedly in the support team that dressed, did make-up and hair,

    etc. and probably in the stage crew as well. And there was certainly a “gay presence” in the

    unavoidable protest before the opera began. I only saw, from the chilly venue of the plaza

    outside the theatre, about the first hour of the show, but it looked drab and reactionary in its

    visual concept, like something from their 1930’s warehouse. And those SCENE CHANGES…

    interminable…. and for what?

  • John says:

    Quite well written for a couple of 3rd year High School kids – I presume that’s what they are!

  • Paul GV says:

    I began following the blog Schleppy’s Nabucco last March and I have to say I enjoy their writing style.

    It’s fun to read and they make good observations.

    • John Kelly says:

      “”Speaking of Eugene Onegin himself, I never cease to be surprised just how many titular opera characters are true malignant narcissists. More on this at another time.”””

      Perhaps this is one of the “good observations” you’ve noticed. Or, like me, you could see this as a statement of the blindingly obvious and missing the entire point that this is why opera is so much FUN!

  • John Kelly says:

    Norman, for God’s sake cease and desist referring us to these two clowns. They don’t represent anything in the way of even semi-interested music lovers. Are they somehow supposed to delineate the views of the “musical proletariat” (who don’t read synopses before attending)??

    The singing was “ho hum”?? No it bloody wasn’t. I was there.

  • Tom C. says:

    She didn’t know the story or the music, doesn’t understand Russian or know anything about Pushkin or Tchaikowsky and hence had only the vaguest idea what was going on. Moreover, she evidences zero talent for writing. What exactly should we find so interesting about her naive comments? Rather like listening to a blind man describing an elephant. On the bright side, she does seem like an attentive granddaughter.

  • Paul GV says:

    Sorry, John and Tom but I still enjoy their blog…. And I hope Norman keeps them on board.

    Here is one of my recent favorites by them:

  • Marguerite Foxon says:

    What a pity this very “lay” review isn’t at least complemented by a review from someone trained in the field. I find it amazing that the opinions of two people off the street should be featured like this. I think the comments about Netrebko, a singer of the highest order with years of dedication to her art and in demand around the world, are ludicrous and insulting. Even on an off night she is never “ho hum”. This is the last time I will bother reading their “ho hum” reviews.

  • harold braun says:

    Actually,i do think this kind of bullshit shouldn’t be posted here…

  • Patricia says:

    Not reading the libretto? How about reading Pushkin? Pride is a funny thing. Why are these two considered experts and I’m guessing have all-house access?

  • cabbagejuice says:

    At least they could have read the program notes. One can learn quite a bit that way, painlessly, I might add.

  • Some of Tchaikowsky’s most inspiring and beautiful music. Why couldn’t that, at least, catch their attention?

  • MsMezzo says:

    The funniest part, for me, was the the singers being blamed for not being with the conductor at all times. Speaking as someone who was actually on the stage that night…the fact that Gergiev changes his mind about tempi every performance is enough to drive even the excellent singers, chorus and orchestra (not to mention the ballet, who god bless them never know how fast, or slow they are going to have to dance) totally, stark raving mad. He’s a “genius” if you call making it look like the singers fault “genius”.

    I must agree with others in this link…these “reviewers” have no chops, and don’t really know what they are talking about. The fact that they go, listen, watch and write about what they think about the opera is commendable. But reviewers? They are no more reviewers than my Great Aunt Fannie who goes to all the HD Broadcasts, and trumpets her opinion as fact. Maybe SHE could write reviews for Norman?

  • Rgiarola says:

    I’ve got tickets for 19/10. Since it isn’t going to be Gergiev, but Smelkov, Should I expect less impact over the Gay-Putin Controversy?

    Nevermind. I care about the issue, but before and after the curtain. During the presentation it is just Eugene Onegin. A masterpiece that can be better or worse than previous presentations I’ve attempted before, but It cannot be due the fact that I dislike the piece or that I didn’t understand (Every time I can understand more and more). I won’t read this review, since I’ve decided to conclude by myself. I can get my opinion, but does it make me a reviewer? I don’t think so.

    PS: Considering the majority of the comments here, I must say that mostly of the times I’ve read the concert programs or the libretto.

    • MsMezzo says:

      Rgiarola, the protests only happened opening night. It has been quiet every performance since, including the HD broadcast on Saturday afternoon.