REVIEW: Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, English Touring Opera at the Lyceum, Sheffield

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This revival of the production of Eugene Onegin which the ETO brought to Sheffield in 2007 feels completely fresh and new.

The simple set provides the perfect atmosphere with a large oblique two way mirror dividing the stage into light and dark and multiplying the swirling couples in the ball scenes.

The gentle video projection of falling letters and then snow onto the mirror in the duel scene was most effective.

The accumulated letters on the floor in the in the last act showed the passage of time and intervening events which any Russian would know from their studies of the whole Pushkin poem from which the opera is derived.

This production is in an English translation by David Lloyd-Jones which achieves some memorable rhyming couplets.

The solo roles are all sung well. Jaewoo Kim as Lensky sang with feeling the poetry which showed his lovely tenor voice to perfection. The soprano of Sarah-Jane Davies as Tatyana grew in power as the opera progressed and beautifully embraced the emotion of the last act, when she echoes her mother’s aria early in the opera by choosing duty and ‘habit sent by god above to take the place of happiness and love’.

Stephen Holloway, as Prince Gremin, and Harriet Williams, as Larina, both sang of their lives with great tenderness and beautiful voices. Andrew Glover’s French accent as Monsieur Triquet was a delightful touch.

The chorus, as always with the ETO, sang, acted and danced superbly, just as Tchaikovsky intended when he described the opera as a series of ‘lyrical scenes’.

It has been a treat to have two excellent and contrasting operas brought to Sheffield by the ETO this week. If only they could be persuaded to include Sheffield in their autumn tour.