A chance to see the best Onegin of the century

A chance to see the best Onegin of the century


norman lebrecht

July 08, 2016

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



  • Meal says:

    Thanks for letting us know. I tried the link just to check whether it works in Germany. Technically, it works perfectly fine. I hope to find time that weekend to watch and listen.

  • Borech says:

    Saw Idomeneo at Garsington, last week. A complete delight! A polar opposite of what ROH has been offering lately- William Tell, Lucia et al. I’m not looking forward to Trovatore, there!

    Roddy Williams ( Garsington’s Onegin) held a public masterclass with three members of the chorus, prior to the performance. He has a wonderful ability to communicate.

    I suspect that the powers that be at Garsington and Glyndebourne take a more critical, early look at their forthcoming productions and rein in wayward directors. . It might be “less challenging”, but it is usually far more enjoyable, at these houses.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      Not wishing to be too negative, but your anxiety about Trovatore is well founded. Musically and visually drab.

  • Barbara says:

    All good in New Zealand so often we get blocked.

  • Gerhard says:

    What an amazing gift of prophecy: knowing already today that there will be no production of Onegin in the next 83 years anyone could prefer to this one … But seriously, it is so much better that a critic may be a little overenthusiastic than if he is too blasé to enjoy anything at all.