Review: Eugene Onegin at Glyndebourne

Eugene Onegin by Richard Hubert Smith
Eugene Onegin by Richard Hubert Smith
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Beautiful music, with a touch of humour, and a moral message.

Eugene Onegin at Glyndebourne sweeps you away with its magnificent storyline and emotional and passionate scenes.

First performed at Glyndebourne in 1968 and revived in 1994, 1996, 2002 and 2008, the opera directed by Graham Vick, follows the somewhat morose young Tatyana (Ekaterina Scherbachenko) who dreams her life away and buries her head in books.

In contrast her sister Olga (Ekaterina Sergeeva) is the life and soul of any party and vows to always be happy.

One day their mother Madam Larina (Diana Montague) receives two visitors, the handsome Lensky (Edgaras Montvidas) who is in love with Olga, and his neighbour Eugene Onegin (Andrei Bondarenko).

Eugene takes a liking to Tatyana and the two stroll through the gardens arm in arm.

That night Tatyana is gripped by love for her new friend and finds it impossible to sleep until she has penned a passionate letter to Eugene.

But she is soon left heartbroken when he rejects her heart and lectures her in the foolery of passion.

He soon becomes embroiled in an elaborate scheme to make Lensky jealous and woo Olga. Following a duel with his best friend Lensky, his life changes for ever, until he meets Tatyana again some years later who has married Prince Gremin (Taras Shtonda).

Eugene regrets his decision to reject the now Princess and begs her to run away with him but the more refined Tatyana puts her morals first and returns the lecture Eugene handed out to her when she was young.

Tchaikovsky’s opera is performed in Russian with English subtitles.

I particularly enjoyed the wonderful colours which reflect the atmosphere of each scene and the use of beautiful sliding curtains which in the second part of the opera help to frame the action and create a portrayal of the busy, flamboyant and stiff aristocracy and their frivolity and superficial lives.

As well as a beautiful opera, Eugene Onegin explores social standing - Tatyana’s transition to a Princess, transforms her in the eyes of Onegin. But Tatyana is true to her heart and despite Onegin’s fall from grace admits she is still in love with him.

I would like to particularly pay tribute to the wonderful Omer Meir Wellber and the London Philharmonic Orchestra who were outstanding.

Eugene Onegin is a truly magical opera and something everyone can enjoy. I was enthralled by this wonderful opera and hope it returns to the stage time and time again.

Eugene Onegin is at Glyndebourne until July 11. Box office 01273 815000 or

Photograph by Richard Hubert Smith.