We were at Garsington Opera yesterday for the final showing of the new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.
The setting sun shone through the glass walls of the stage, the audience was gripped and the production was classical in the purest English theatrical tradition, albeit sung in Russian. The director was Michael Boyd, former head of the Royal Shakespeare Company (and no relation of Garsington’s excellent music director, Douglas Boyd).
But the clinch factor, for me, was the ensemble spirit of a company of mostly young singers who are just stepping out on the world stage. Roderick Williams made his role debut as Onegin and Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana, two stubborn characters on a one-way road to heartbreak. The all-English chorus, entering organically from the surrounding fields with the end of harvest, perfectly evoked an eternal Russia. The duel scene contained an indelible directorial innovation.
As we were leaving, a dickybird whispered in my ear that this was the first opera to be filmed at Garsington, and it was going to be shown in cinemas and on the BBC Arts Channel (which few know about and even fewer tune into).
To see the whole opera click here.
Watch if you can (I don’t know if its visible in the US). There will also be some cinema screenings.
One opera veteran told me it was the best Onegin of her life. I can’t remember one I have enjoyed more.
Photo: Garsington Opera/Marc Douet