Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin / Gavrilova Redkin Baskov Novak Martirosyan Udalova Arkhipov Ermler Moscow|
Actors: Maria Gavrilova, Yelena Novak, Vladimir Redkin, Nikolay Baskov, Mark Ermler
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A Traditional 'Onegin' with Russian Singers
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 04/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 2 DVD set is from a 2000 production at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. It reproduces a legendary production by Boris Pokrovsky from the same theater done in 1944. The sets and costumes are new but based on those of the historic production. It is entirely naturalistic - none of that awkward (and sometimes grotesque) updating so popular in European productions these days - and is a gorgeous mounting. It is led by one of the most-respected Russian conductors, Mark Ermler. The only concern I might have, reviewing it as I am doing in early April 2005, is the knowledge that another DVD of 'Onegin' from Russia, from the Kirov Theater in St. Petersburg, with better-known singers and with conductor Yuri Temirkanov, is due for release in a month's time. Obviously I haven't seen that one and cannot make a comparison. Nonetheless, I am quite satisfied with this version. It is true to both Tchaikovsky's and Pushkin's vision. I have loved Pushkin's verse novel for forty years, and Tchaikovsky's opera for nearly that long. Considering the length and complexity of Pushkin's book, it is a marvel of concision that Tchaikovsky (and his fellow librettist, his brother Modest) wrought. These seven 'lyrical scenes' convey the thrust of Pushkin's novel effectively, and the music is among the loveliest for any opera.
The singers are quite fine. Maria Gavrilova, as Tatyana, takes a little while to warm up, but by the Letter Scene she is in wonderful form. And she gets better as the opera proceeds. Her growth from bookish, romance-besotted girl to married Princess in Act III is convincingly portrayed. Vladimir Redkin as Onegin has a fine voice and an effective stage presence. I just wish he had a bit more charisma; that would make Tatyana's falling in love with him at first sight a bit more believable. However, his gentle, but somewhat condescending, rebuff of Tatyana in Act I is nicely done, and by Act III his contrition and heartbreak are convincing. Mezzo Yelena Novak makes a good Olga although her girlishness is a bit overdone. The voice, though, is lush. Nikolai Baskov's Lensky is a bit of a simp, but then that's actually true to Pushkin's characterization and Tchaikovsky underlines that with Lensky's famous 'Ya lyublyu vas' in Act I, setting its conventional poetry to pedestrian music, a touch of Pushkinian irony. Baskov ('Kuda, kuda') is touching in the duel scene. And in that scene we are treated to the glorious bass voice of Alexander Korotky as Zaretsky, Onegin's second. Finally, in Act III, Tatyana's husband Prince Gremin is touchingly (and stunningly) sung by bass Aik Martirosyan; his aria about how much he loves his wife brings a lump to one's throat.
The Bolshoi audience gave enthusiastic applause for the scenery of the ball scene of Act II, and again to the ballroom in Scene I of Act III, and rightly so. They were beautiful and complimented by the costumes of the women in elegant gowns and the men in handsome military uniforms.
All in all, this is a wonderful production. Sound is a little muffled in Scene I, but gets much better and is quite fine for the rest of the opera. Ermler conducts effectively and aside from an occasional ensemble problem, the orchestra is excellent. The principal horn, who gets quite a workout through the entire opera, must be singled out as exceptional.
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, or LPCM Stereo. Subtitles in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish. Running time: 157 minutes.
[This review is dedicated to the memory of Bob Zeidler who passed away today. He was a fellow Amazon reviewer who had become a dear friend.]"
Very fine with caveats
T. W. Didden | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | 04/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree mostly with J. Scott Morrison's review of this disc, having seen it yesterday and the experience is still fresh. My biggest complaint would have to do with the sound. I do not have surround sound and after watching much of the first disc in stereo,with frustrating dry sound and odd balances, I switched to the digital mix which seemed a bit better, but there are odd balances and problems; aurally, it is not consistently fine, maybe the russian sound engineers do not have the best equipment or expertise. The production is beautiful, gamely realistic and lush, both in sets and costumes. The voices are fine, although I wished for a Tatyana with a more "girlish" tone quality: her early scenes with that big lush vibrato laden sound work against her good acting and visual picture, although it seems more appropriate in the later scenes. (I still remember Teresa Zylis-Gara at the Met in this role in the late 70's-SHE pulled off the visual and voice quality, and musicality, to perfection.) On the whole, the other singers are fine in their roles, although I wonder if the Bolshoi is engaging the finest russian singers these days - I think that the Maryansky and Gergiev are displaying the finest, most international-quality voices in russian repertoire, and doing a fantastic job of recording and releasing on dvd their wonderful treasures. I will await THEIR release of this opera eagerly, and I think that the Bolshoi may be bettered. I also liked very much the other "Eugene Onegin" on dvd, which had largely unknown singers and a much sparer production, but the singing was almost as fine or more so (I should review it again for comparison). Therefore I can't really go all the way in giving this unqualified praise, though it gives about as accurate picture of what is going on at the Bolshoi these days as we are likely to get. The audience's near hysterical reaction at the end of almost all the major scenes or arias must have been gratifying to the performers, but I did'nt always share the extent of their enthusiasm. The prospective investor in the perfect dvd "Onegin" experience should wait until the Kirov version is released; then maybe we can put all three (four, if you count the visually beautiful but lip-synched version from the Solti recording) in better perspective."
Solid but not thrilling performance
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 06/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Eugene Onegin is one of my favorite operas, but unfortunately there arent many available videos of this romantic, moving work. I had hoped this Bolshoi performance would be the definitive video, but while it has its moments it for me lacked that extra spark. It's a solid performance, but not a good one.
The production itself is very old-fashioned, and I mean that in a good way. I think Eugene Onegin is one of those operas that doesnt work "updated" -- it needs the backdrop of 19th century gentility to make sense. The heart of any Onegin, I think, is not the title character, but rather the heroine Tatyana. Maria Gavrilova is the Tatyana of this performance. She looks rather matronly and thus strains credibility as the young, naive heroine. Her voice isn't bad, but it has a heavy vibrato and a rather dark sound that doesnt really "sound" right for Tatyana. I like my Tatyanas to sound more girlish and radiant. Vladmir Redkin has a handsome enough voice, but he is a stiff and priggish Onegin -- again, not an invalid way to play the character, but you wonder why he's such a hit with all the ladies. For me, Onegin has to also have a kind of sullen sex appeal and charisma. Nikolai Baskov has a rather irritating, whiny voice that makes Lenski even more wimpy than he usually is.
Dont get me wrong -- this is not a bad performance. I do feel however that the principals (especially Tatyana) are a bit miscast, and that the performance never really catches fire."
Jack | USA | 05/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A very fine performance of a wonderful opera. I agree that the sound could have been more consistent, there are occasions where the voices seem to fade out. The sets and costumes are teriffic. Redkin does come off as stiff and aloof at first, one does wonder why Tatyana fell in love with him. But he becomes more human as the story unfolds. Gavrilova's voice takes a little time to unfold but her performance in the letter scene could not have been better. I had to repeat the entire scene (one of the nice things about DVD). Baskov, like Redkin, is a little stiff in the openiing scene and, throughout, it sounds to my ears that, on occasion, some of his notes are not on pitch. By the scene at the ball, though, he is in excellent form, vocal and dramatic, he and Redkin are chilling during their falling out. I'm always puzzled a bit during this scene. It revolves around Lensky and Onegin vis-a-vis Olga and yet Olga is mostly unseen and unheard. What was she thinking when she realizes that what she thought was harmless flirting with Onegin has brought about the chilling remarks of Lensky about Onegin, his closet friend and his damnation of his former love, Olga. The only reaction we see is that of Tatyana."