Pyotr Tchaikovsky may have named his opera after the male lead, but it’s the woman who boldly declares her love for him who’s the one to watch. Tatiana is beautiful and educated. In a complete break with convention, she writes to Onegin of her love; he rebuffs her.
Years after their last meeting – when Onegin killed another man in a duel – Onegin returns from self-imposed exile. He is introduced to Prince Gremin’s wife, instantly recognizes her as Tatiana and realizes – too late –he’s in love with her.
In an Act III scene that mirrors Tatiana’s heartbreak in Act I, she gets a love letter from him. But now she must reject the man who rejected her. She insists on fidelity to her husband. Dejected and punished, Onegin has only himself to blame. Tatiana says “no” to true love but “yes” to honor.
Eugene Onegin, the opera, is based on a poem by the same name by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Its themes of love and loss are universal and timeless.Remember the 2000 movie Cast Away? A Russian FedEx delivery man brings an important package to Tom Hanks’ character and is singing the famous aria sung by Prince Gremin in Act III of Eugene Onegin.
Prince Gremin’s aria was used in the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley. Matt Damon’s and Cate Blanchett’s characters are at the opera – and Damon’s character (Tom Ripley) sees something of himself in Onegin.
The story was made into a 1999 movie called Onegin starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role and Liv Tyler as Tatyana.
While composing Onegin in 1877, Tchaikovsky received a love letter from a former student, whom he soon wed. The unhappy marriage lasted just nine weeks before Tchaikovsky left in despair.
Thursday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m.