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Hvorostovsky's Eugene Onegin

Ahead of tomorrow evening's final of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019, another chance to hear a previous winner from 2015 - Dmitri Hvorostovsky, in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.

Ahead of tomorrow evening's Final of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019, tonight we focus on previous winner of that feted title - the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. This evening we'll hear his final UK stage performance in the title role of Eugene Onegin, a performance recorded in 2015 from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
The Guardian described his performance as ‘exceptional even by his own high standards’.

Described by tonight's conductor, Semyon Bychkov, as an opera about young people, for young people, Eugene Onegin is based on Alexander Pushkin's verse novel of the same name. The emotions of youth, love and loss are at the core of the story and at the heart of the music in this, one of Tchaikovsky's best-loved operas.

Eugene Onegin ..... Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone)
Tatyana ..... Nicole Car (soprano)
Olga ..... Oksana Volkova (mezzo-soprano)
Lensky ..... Michael Fabiano (tenor)
Madame Larina ..... Diana Montague (mezzo-soprano)
Filipyevna ..... Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano)
Monsieur Triquet ..... Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor)
Prince Gremin ..... Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass)
Zaretsky ..... James Platt (bass)
A Captain ..... David Shipley (bass)

Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Semyon Bychkov (conductor)

3 hours, 15 minutes

Music Played

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Eugene Onegin - Part I (Scenes 1 - 4)

    Singer: Nicole Car. Singer: Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Singer: Diana Montague. Singer: Catherine Wyn‐Rogers. Singer: Oksana Volkova. Singer: Michael Fabiano. Singer: Ferruccio Furlanetto. Singer: Jean-Paul Fouchécourt. Singer: Elliot Goldie. Singer: David Shipley. Singer: James Platt. Singer: Luke Price. Choir: Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Conductor: Semyon Bychkov.
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Eugene Onegin - Part II (Scenes 5 - 7)

    Singer: Nicole Car. Singer: Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Singer: Michael Fabiano. Singer: Ferruccio Furlanetto. Singer: Oksana Volkova. Singer: Diana Montague. Singer: Catherine Wyn‐Rogers. Singer: Elliot Goldie. Singer: Jean-Paul Fouchécourt. Singer: David Shipley. Singer: James Platt. Singer: Luke Price. Choir: Coro del Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Conductor: Semyon Bychkov.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Vocalise

    Performer: Narek Hakhnazaryan. Performer: Oxana Shevchenko.
    • BBC recording.
  • Robert Schumann

    3 Romances Op.94

    Performer: Annelien Van Wauwe. Performer: Lucas Blondeel.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Contrapunctus 11 (from 'The Art of Fugue')

    Ensemble: Armida Quartett.

Synopsis

The young and romantic Tatyana wrote the dashing Eugene Onegin a letter declaring her love for him. But Onegin rejected her – he was not ready for marriage. Years later, they meet again, and old feelings are reawakened in both of them. Together they open the doors to painful memories, but have to realize that it is impossible to remake the past.

Scene 1: Madame Larina’s house

Tatyana and her sister Olga are singing a love song. Their mother Madame Larina bitterly reflects with the girls’ nurse Filipyevna on the naivety of youth. A group of workers on Larina’s estate celebrate the harvest. Tatyana daydreams when she hears them sing; Olga teases her and describes her own easygoing attitude to life. Olga’s suitor, the local poet Lensky, arrives and introduces his neighbour Eugene Onegin. There is an immediate connection between Tatyana and Onegin.

Scene 2: That night

Unable to sleep, Tatyana questions Filipyevna about her youth and early marriage. After Filipyevna has gone, she writes a letter to Onegin confessing her love for him. She feels she has seen Onegin often in dreams, even before they met, and that they are destined for each other. At dawn, she asks Filipyevna to arrange for the letter to be delivered to Onegin.

Scene 3: The next day

Tatyana waits anxiously for Onegin. When he arrives, he tells her that he was touched by her letter, but that he fears he would not be a good husband for her or anybody – although he does have warm feelings for her. He warns her to be less emotionally open in future. Tatyana is left confused and devastated.

Scene 4: Tatyana’s name day party

Madame Larina is giving a party to celebrate Tatyana’s name day, but Tatyana wants anything but to be the centre of attention. Onegin dances with Tatyana, but when he hears the guests gossiping about them, he starts to dance with Olga. Monsieur Triquet, an elderly Frenchman, sings a song composed by Lensky for Tatyana. Onegin continues to dance with Olga. Lensky becomes jealous and confronts Olga who laughs off his anxiety and continues to flirt with Onegin. Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel.

Scene 5: The countryside, early morning

Lensky waits for Onegin. Lensky reflects with despair on the possibility of dying an early death, and fears that all will forget him quickly. Onegin arrives with a friend, and the men prepare to fire their pistols. Onegin fires first, and kills Lensky.

Scene 6: A ball, St Petersburg

Onegin flees the memory of Lensky and travels abroad. He is haunted by his memories of Lensky and feels depressed. On his return years later, he meets his relative Prince Gremin. Gremin greets him and introduces Onegin to his wife: Tatyana. The unexpected meeting deeply upsets Onegin and Tatyana. Gremin describes to Onegin how happy Tatyana has made him. When they leave, Onegin realizes his horrible mistake in rejecting Tatyana and writes her a letter, declaring his love for her.

Scene 7: Tatyana’s room in Prince Gremin’s house

Tatyana and Onegin meet the next morning. Meeting again is painful for both of them. Onegin tells her he regrets everything that has happened: it is clear to him now that they are soulmates. Although Tatyana finally confesses that she shares his feelings, it is too late – she will never abandon her husband and ruin his life for her own happiness.

- With thanks to the Royal Opera House.

Episode Image © ROH, Photo by Bill Cooper

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