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«Have you heard?..»

Igor Koryabin

1 December 2007

Opening of Tchaikovsky’s Eugeny Onegin in Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre

If you “have not heard”, then hurry up. Although it will not be so easy to do. The house of the theatre on Ostozhenka street has turned out to be too small to fit everybody who wanted to see the only performance of the November opening (the next one will be only in December). Besides the interest to this event grew so hot because of its title that became a sort of finishing stroke in the relationship between Galina Vishnevskaya and the Bolshoi Theater, to which the famous Prima Dona gave the brightest and the most significant part of her artistic career. As it’s well known, the main musical temple of Russia which lost its glorifying greatness long ago, with undue familiarity has turned one of the most beautiful pearls of Russian classical opera into “a ball of sophisticated obscurantism.” Bolshoi’s opening of Onegin was followed by the production of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre which poured water on the same millwheel without bringing anything artistically creative.

But let’s be objective – the production strengths (directing ideas in particular) of the premier show in the opera centre are quite modest too. However this modesty is compensated with touchingly tolerant respect to the history of the show and to the opera music of it. Director

Andris Liepa – true artist – just made blocking of the show nothing else.

Anna Nezhnaya – set and costume designer – created a cozy, blanketing atmosphere for lyrical scenes consciously designed in colors of sepia and super curtain with images of Pushkin and Tchaikovsky from time to time didactically looking at the audience. Eugeny Onegin in Galina Vishnevskaya’s Opera Centre is a well done low-budget student show which unsurprisingly perceived as a breath of fresh air after the two previously mentioned Onegin shows. It understandably does not have any room for ostentation and fundamental theatrical realism. It is conditional with clear set-design minimum and traditional – both are interconnected and combined.

The main advantage of this show is its musicality. The conductor of the show, Yaroslav Tkalenko interpreted it as a deep and refined professional artist. The orchestra sounded very balanced and precise being both purely symphonic and accompanying the singers. It was exposed in the immersion into intellectual depth of intricate psychology of the music score and a piercing musical tenderness. Tatyana’s part performed by

Guzelya  Shahmatova with her lucrative lyrical dramatic soprano could be called as a successful debut despite the fact that her voice still lacks some smoothness and emotional authenticity. However the final scene which is a stumbling block for all sopranos the singer managed to perform truly impressively.

As always, a reserved singing style and almost transparently bodiless bass was demonstrated by Alexei Tihomirov (the part of Gremin). Extravagant Svetlana Kotina was undoubtedly memorable in the part of Olga.

Nevertheless the most significant discovery of this opening were two wonderful young lyrical voices – baritone Sergei Pluskin (Onegin) and tenor Georgy Gaivoronvsky (Lensky). Both artistic interpretations had a feeling of almost innate aristocratism, the manners of the gallant 19th century. A real lyrical tenor, in its full-fledged power, very flexible and pliable without tessitura tortures is great rarity. And Gerogy Gaivoronsky fully meets the requirements.

Usually Onegin’s part is performed by dramatic baritones that’s why the emergence of a new lyrical baritone of Sergei Pluskin is a good luck and very much on time. Showing himself as a master of delicate nuance and free delightful cantilena, the singer was able to hold such a crystal pure fermata in the famous final line of the main character that all doubts (if anybody still had any) vanished away on their own. Eugeny Onegin at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre took its own romantic niche in the gallery of not-at-all-excessive opera shows!