It took 25 years for the famend director Robert Carsen’s Met debut—the acclaimed manufacturing of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s adaptation of Alexander Pushkin‘s Eugene Onegin—to land within the West Coast, as San Francisco Opera premiered their new mounting of Eugene Onegin after 18 years final Sunday.
Throughout that interval, the staging had traveled to Chicago, Washington, Houston, Geneva, Matsumoto (Japan), and most just lately Toronto—a real testomony of its stature. SF Opera’s present itself is billed as “Canadian Opera Firm manufacturing, initially created for the Metropolitan Opera.”
Peter McClintock, who labored with Carsen on the unique Met manufacturing, took over as Revival Director this time. Within the illuminating interview with SF Classical Voice, McClintock mentioned: “I’m attempting to signify Robert’s concepts one of the simplest ways I can and never be slavish to very small technical particulars.”
Additional, concerning Carsen’s staging, he talked about that it “finally ends up being like a light-weight field. Inside the sunshine field, Carsen wished to create a really particular world via the costumes and strip away the homes and gardens to concentrate on the interrelationships.” McClintock additionally tapped the unique 1997 manufacturing (units and costumes) designer Michael Levine and choreographer Serge Bennathan to help together with his route.
Famed for its “autumnal leaves and gilded chairs,” this manufacturing thrilled me once I lastly witnessed it after listening to of its greatness over time. The bodily properties actually didn’t disappoint! Levine’s towering partitions with Christine Binder’s softly coloured lights (starting from sepia brown in Act 1 to shades of blue for the duel scene) had been majestic, Levine’s ball gown-and-tuxedo dominated costumes had been marvelous,
Bennathan’s dances for the Waltz and Polonaise had been breathtaking, and sure, the leaves had been beautiful to take a look at. My private favourite was the choice to render the rejection scene in virtually monochrome coloration, it actually added the chilliness impact to the state of affairs!
Nonetheless, i really feel that “the sunshine field” sadly additionally functioned as a telescope, placing the highlight squarely on every performer—together with each gesture and facial features—and on the interactions between them. In an opera of emotions like Eugene Onegin, the success of every scene right here turned severely depending on the dramatic capacity of every performer, most likely greater than every other stagings. There merely wasn’t anywhere to cover for the performers, so to talk. This may be extra apparent as we checked out every singer under.
I personally dislike using scrim display in any performances, not simply operas, subsequently I used to be upset to search out that the entire duel scene (Act 2 Scene 2) was carried out behind one! I didn’t assume it served a lot function; if something it masked the viewers from really seeing the duel (I barely might see the silhouettes from the place I sat) and it dimmed the beautiful evening-time blue background!
SF Opera assembled a youthful solid for the central characters, all of them had been making home debuts on Sunday. Moreover, the event served because the American debuts for conductor Vassilis Christopoulos, soprano Evgenia Muraveva (Tatyana) and mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina (Olga).
Christopoulos led the SF Opera Orchestra in a relatively leisurely studying, solely kicking into the gear for the dance sequences. He did emphasize the folks elements of the rating, highlighting the woodwind particularly. The orchestra, nonetheless, had an inclination to overpower the singers in the course of the climactic moments, significantly within the final 2 acts. As well as, SF Opera Refrain sang enticingly, significantly because the peasant people in Act 1.
Muraveva made a really lyrical Tatyana, taking an introverted standpoint all through. By itself hers was a sound characterization, but it surely might result in sounding a little bit underpowered in comparison with different Tatyanas. Notably within the Letter scene, we bought much less of the same old explosive outpouring of feelings, however as a substitute it was one thing resembled a demure younger lady discovering her past love, giddy and confused on the identical time!
She regarded completely beautiful within the night robe for the final act; the transformation was actually plausible! Her mild instrument grew greater for the ultimate scene, and she or he imbued it with a sure sense of knowledge. She stored her distance whereas admitting she was nonetheless in love with Onegin, as if such admission proved nothing! It was an fascinating tackle Tatyana, if not standard!
In her temporary second on stage as Olga, Akhmetshina supplied much-needed distinction to Muraveva’s Tatyana together with her darkish and sinewy tone and extroverted disposition. I kinda wished Tchaikovsky wrote extra for her character!
Tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson supplied the largest shock of the night time together with his healthful personification of Lenski. I felt like his was probably the most totally realized character in the entire manufacturing, and it was all totally human; you can really feel all the pieces from his happiness (Act 1), his frustration, his jealousy, his anger (Act 2, scene 1) to his resignation (Act 2 scene 2) rising from his physique.
His vivid and sturdy voice sounded extraordinarily pleasing to my ears, and his “Kuda, kuda” introduced the home down! No shock that he acquired the largest ovation of the night time! I’m fairly positive I’m not the one one who would like to see him again to the Conflict Memorial; how about Prince in Rusalka subsequent?
Veteran bass Ferruccio Furlanetto returned to SF Opera stage within the function of Prince Gremin, recent from exercising his comedic performing chops in final yr Così fan tutte . Whereas the voice might need misplaced a few of its suppleness, his take of Gremin’s Act 3 aria was touching and heartfelt, a blueprint of the way it was purported to be finished; Prince Gremin actually cherished his spouse!
The 2 mezzos that opened the present—each ex Merola graduates—Deborah Nansteel and Ronnita Miller, impressed with their profitable portrayals as Madame Larina and Filipyevna respectively. It was onerous to think about that this was Nansteel’s home debut ever since graduating from Merola in 2011! Miller was significantly tender and poignant in her supply because the affecting Nanny, her voice radiated kindness that was so stunning to see and listen to.
Contemporary from performing Eros in Antony and Cleopatra, tenor Brenton Ryan dazzled as Monsieur Triquet, a job that extra carefully resembled the Italian singer from Der Rosenkavalier than the aged French tutor that Tchaikovsky prescribed. Perhaps it’s time to present Ryan meatier roles, SF Opera?
That led us to the Achilles heel of the efficiency, Canadian baritone Gordon Bintner who made the home debut because the title function. I used to be initially excited to see Bintner as he was having good opinions in the identical function in Toronto, however my pleasure step by step dissipated because the afternoon progressed.
Whereas there was nothing actually fallacious together with his voice (aside from being swallowed by the orchestra a number of instances), Bintner’s characterization of Onegin—together with his deadpan expression and clean stares all through Act 1—was so indifferent and chilly that one would marvel what Tatyana noticed in him.
As well as, with out the viewers having any sympathy for him, his desperation within the last scene turned hole and superficial; no marvel Tatyana flat out rejected him! It was unlucky that Bintner introduced down the present with him, regardless of one of the best efforts from just about everyone else!
However, the excessive level of Sunday’s present was on the finish, when Furlanetto was introduced with the San Francisco Opera Medal, the Firm’s highest honor by SF Opera Basic Director, Matthew Shilvock.
Shilvock reminded everyone that Furlanetto made the home debut in La Gioconda (alongside Renata Scotto and the late Luciano Pavarotti) in 1979, and subsequently went on to carry out in seven different productions, together with the title function of Atilla in 2012, Philip II in 2016 and final yr Don Alfonso.
Furlanetto was visibly moved with the gesture as he mentioned “I’m extraordinarily touched and proud to obtain this honor from the Opera Home the place I began my worldwide profession” to the cheering crowd!
Images: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera