Recorded at the 2007 Salzburg Festival, this production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin features an excellent, young cast and the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim. Director Andrea Breth has created ... more »an intimate production that mines the depths of expression and charisma of her singer-actors and integrates silent secondary episodes and miniature dramas to heighten the intensity of the story. The title role--a tour de force for any baritone--is taken by Peter Mattei, who starred as Figaro in the Metropolitan Opera's HD Live Broadcast of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He is joined by dazzling young Russian soprano Anna Samuil, a protégée of Daniel Barenboim who has been acclaimed as a vibrant new presence on the opera stage. The opera includes a wonderful performance from the young tenor, Joseph Kaiser, recently acclaimed for perfomances at The Met opposite Anna Netrebko in Roméo et Juliette, as well as a solid contribution from bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. The DVD has been filmed in HD, with 5.1 DTS surround sound and PCM stereo.« less
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 08/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Last year it seemed absolutely everyone at Salzburg clamored about director Andrea Breth's monumental updated production of "Eugene Onegin" and indeed, it was one of the most reviewed performances I've ever seen - I read over 30 reviews of the opening night - and nearly every single one seemed to be outdoing the other in heaping superlatives. I saw clips of it and found it moving, and now have watched the entire thing on DVD, twice. Musically, I find it thrilling and eye opening, but dramatically it runs both red hot (like a fire poker in the eye) and unmoving.
There's not a thing wrong with strong willed directors, but when the will of the director ignores what is happening in the music and imposes his or her will OVER what the director intends - then I have a problem. And I had a lot of problems here.
As terrific as Anna Samuil is in the Letter Scene, dramatically there was something lacking - something in need of tightening up - not on the heroine's part, but on the director's. The decision to not have her in pajamas or a nightgown proved, for me at least, a seemingly inconsequential, but ultimately glaring mistake. Breth has already made us aware this Tatyana is no shrinking violet - is, in fact, a strong willed (and slightly spoiled), young woman. But she's still a girl and we need SOME vulnerability and there was next to none found here. Despite Samuil's lovely shaded singing, magnificent lighting (car lights shining through the woods and windows) . . . despite incredible stage machinery rotating the sets showing Tatyana tearing through the house and out into the woods with what can only be described as "love fever," we do not quite get (or at least I did not get) the sense that her epistle to Mr. O was particularly difficult, much less an all night vigil. Even having her remain in the same jeans for several days didn't really convey that. There absolutely MUST be the element of the girl's restlessness, of her insomnia, of night passing into day and it could have been as easily remedied by giving the gal a goddamned nightgown. Having her sit, pensive, noisily pecking away at a typewriter was for me a rather novel idea - just not a particularly good dramatic one. Just me I guess.
Earlier on, in one of the very best, liveliest,and most infectious peasant choruses in all of opera, the Larin servants, farmhands and neighbors perform it motionless as a chorus of automatons arranged properly in concert formation, faces stripped of any emotion as we watch the ghastly attired Madam Larina (her hair in curlers no less) frolicking with a pair of moppets (and nearly showing us her "business" in the process).
Peter Mattei (one of my favorite baritones) makes Onegin entirely unappealing, eliciting almost no sympathy for his plight. Onegin already IS somewhat unappealing, but to burden him now with a jaded, been-there-done-that playboy attitude misses Onegin's point entirely. To Mattei's credit he sounds terrific and follows, to the letter, his directress's whims turning a melancholy, ennui-ridden young man into a mean-spirited, selfish and arrogant prick. Great.
Much was been made about Breth's total transformation of Madame Larina and it's true: few characters have morphed so entirely as the Larin girls' mama. Instead of a kindly, pensive disillusioned, broken-dreamed, still elegant and intelligent woman we're given a gaudy, shrewish, manipulative, self-obsessed cow. Wonderful.
I also had to scratch my head at the rambunctious, drunk fest that took the place of Tatyana's name day celebration. Do people really find this that innovative? Does this add anything at all to the drama? I don't think so.
And speaking of parties and celebrations, I will NOT apologize for finding the current directorial fad of removing the Third Act Polannaise to be a mistake. It is, in fact one of the most yawn-inducing clichés perpetuated upon the world of opera in the last decade. And there have been a lot. (Oddly, Carsen's re-working of it for the Met, is the only example of where it worked. All others, including this one, fail miserably in my opinion). Breth here makes a little joke: Ha ha! I'm going out on a limb here, but in, say, 20 years or so some hot shot Austrian playwright making his operatic debut in Onegin will DARE to place the women into Empire gowns, the men in tails and fill the stage with gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers as couples elegantly glide round the stage in sophisticated choreographed formations and the audience drop their jaws thinking "My, God! It's almost as though this music was MADE for this!"
Sorry to spoil the party that everyone else enjoyed (I guess I'm just a bad guest!) but it felt to me that Breth was trying hard to make Onegin an intense, unsettling, brooding dark opera, a statement on class distinctions and society - as well as on boredom and honor. The problem is Tchaikovsky already did that and what I feel was chiefly achieved here was merely an accentuation of the ugliness of these characters . . . and unattractive costumes.
I was amazed by Martin Zehetgruber's elaborate sets - magnificent in every regard - and I would love to see another stab at this Onegin as despite how I may come off here, I think Breth has some very good ideas: the portrayal of this matriarchal society; the Larina disdain for peasants and workers; Madame Larina's sheering the men like sheep; the contrast between the "old ways" still being hung to by Filipevna with the new world ideas of Madame L.; the disdain and boredom of the strong-willed Tatyana (having Filipevna die, unnoticed by the girl she did everything for, chilling . . . brilliant); the duel - heartbreaking; the blazing intensity of the final scene - there is plenty of good stuff here, I just found it all didn't come together for me as for everyone else.
With so much attention lavished on the principal pair of non-lovers, the majority of characters almost fade which is a shame. Joseph Kaiser is charmingly idealistic at Lensky.
Musically, Daniel Barenboim gives one of the most frenetic, violent readings of this score - make that THE most violent reading of the score anyone has probably ever heard - the tensions at times are almost unbearable. Unfortunately, regardless of what anybody else has written (maybe they were swept away by the passion) it was a sloppy, inelegant reading from the Vienna Philharmonic, with intonation problems, rifts between stage and pit, uneven entrances from the orchestra itself (a lot of this). It is thrilling, in that way surviving a ride on a high speed, broken rollercoaster is thrilling - but I'm pretty sure I'd never want to get on again.
There is clearly an audience for this - and I will try to come back to it, but I can think of a half dozen other "Onegins" on DVD (more if you add pirates) that are ultimately far more satisfying: particularly Graham Vick's production for Glyndebourne; and Robert Carsen's minimalist, brilliant production for the Metropolitan Opera.
Not An Ideal Production
Pirooz Aghssa | Ann Arbor, MI United States | 09/05/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this review on the basis of my admiration for Peter Mattei whose voice and looks are an asset to any opera. His singing here is indeed beautiful. But the production is so at odds with the spirit of Pushkin and Tchaikovsky that it is hard to stomach.
Onegin is essence of the Russian soul and this production completely negates that. Musically strong, theatrically a disaster."
Warning: Watch this with your eyes closed!
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 11/14/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The singing here is really wonderful. Peter Mattei as Onegin, Joseph Kaiser as Lensky, Anna Samuil as Tatyana, and Ferrucio Furlanetto as Prince Gremin, each deserve five stars. But everything else is just wrong, wrong, wrong!!!
Andrea Breth's idea of this opera warped into the current era must have Tchaikovsky and Pushkin rolling in their graves. From the first scene to the last, Breth has transformed dignified, lovable people like Larina, Filipyevna, Olga and Tatyana into bored, disillusioned and unlikeable characters. Only Lensky survived relatively unscathed, but that Lensky would not even have a friend like the hard-assed Onegin portrayed here. And Tatyana was about as innocent and loveable as Britney Spears! So, when Onegin disappoints her, who cares??? And vice versa!
Breth must have had Harry Potter's dementors for inspiration because all the beauty and joy were sucked out of this production! It's really too bad. The set was dark and dreary and generally ugly. All the joy was removed from the initial chorus number--no dancing; only one couple waltzed (slowly and incompetently) during the gorgeous waltz scene at the Larin's ball, etc.
If it weren't for the beautiful music and world class singing (and my curiosity--OMG! What next?), I would not have been able to sit through it.
Salzburg audiences must expect and demand the outrageous because they certainly get a lot of it."
DVD -Eugene Onegin
Ali Hassan AYACHE | São Paulo, Brasil. | 07/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tchaikovsky-Eugene Onegin-One of my Russian operas favorite looks that I love Russian opera.
Version innovative, modern. Revolving stage, which gives flexibility to a plot that is naturally slow.
Recording held in 2007 in Vienna.
The director Andrea Breth carries the plot of the century, shows the russia of the 80, where the water predominates in a tone of decadence. It runs from the context. Streamlines the opera without detracting from it. Inova without exaggeration.
The Regency of Daniel Barenboim is superb. The conductor of the orchestra takes all the colorful, textured and subtle color to the score.
The soloists have voices medians, say common. Lend their characters good performance arts. Was common in today's DVDs.
Peter Malta has beautiful voice and powerful tone with emphasis on the bass.
Anna Samuil Tatyana is a sweet, naive. Voice to correct personagem.Mas nothing memorable.
Joseph Kaiser makes Lensky most passionate and jealous that I know. More common voice, median, which fulfills its obligation.
Ferruccio Furlanetto displays a majestic Prince Gremin. Mature voice, with serious pompous. Featured among the cast of this opera.
Ryland Davies makes a Triquet dull. Your character is a fine irony, satire of Russian society, who liked to speak French aristocratic wheels. Our friend is not at all satirical.
Images and sound quality exclente that disk.
The direction of seasoned video Briam Large prinicpais captures the moments of the plot.
A DVD of the opera Eugene Onegin modern, well written, with good voices and medians regency. That the friend to buy these DVD will find.
DVD Comenttado -Eugene Onegin
Eugene Onegin- Tchaikovsky- Uma de minhas óperas russas preferidas, olha que eu adoro ópera russa.
Versão inovadora, moderna . Palco giratório, o que confere agilidade a uma trama que é naturalmente lenta.
Gravação realizada em 2007 em Viena.
O diretor Andrea Breth transporta a trama para o século XX, mostra a russia da década de 80, onde a água predomina em um tom de decadência. Não foge do contexto. Moderniza a ópera sem descaracterizá-la. Inova sem exageros.
A Regência de Daniel Baremboim é soberba. O maestro tira da orquestra todo o colorido, tessituras e nuances cromáticas que a partitura permite.
Os solistas tem vozes medianas,diria que comuns. Emprestam aos seus personagens boas atuações cênicas. Fato comum nos DVDs de hoje.
Peter Maltei tem voz com belo e potente timbre com destaque para os graves.
Anna Samuil faz uma Tatyana doce, ingênua. Voz correta para a personagem.Mas nada memorável.
Joseph Kaiser faz o Lensky mais apaixonado e ciumento que conheço. Mais uma voz comum, mediana, que cumpre sua obrigação.
Ferruccio Furlanetto exibe um príncipe Gremin majestoso. Voz madura, com graves pomposos. Destaque entre o elenco dessa ópera.
Ryland Davies faz um Triquet sem graça. O seu personagem é de uma ironia fina, satiriza a sociedade russa, que gostava de falar francês nas rodas aristocráticas. Nosso amigo não tem nada de satírico.
Imagens e Som de exclente qualidade nesse disco.
A direção de vídeo do tarimbado Briam Large capta os prinicpais momentos da trama.
Um DVD da ópera Eugene Onegin moderno, bem gravado , com vozes medianas e boa regência. Isso que o amigo que comprar esses DVD vai encontrar.
Ali Hassan Ayache "
Feeling lonely loving this
Y. J. Lee | ASIA | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most reviewers don't like this performance. But I love it. True, it may look dry, queer, even malicious, but seemed to conceal its own logic and virtues. In my opinion Onegin is the most cynical opera, so I am more generous to this kind of experiment. Whenever I see Onegin, I feel bored by Larina & Filipyevna. Breth gave sub-characters their own theatrical traits, Olga's amoral indifference, Larina's comic snobbery, Filipyevna's aged curiosity, Gremlin's subdued violence. Breth also gives many metaphors. Onegin just slipped away cold-heartedly after Lensky's death but came back broken down, which tells much story and offers ground for his sudden foolish passion for Tatyana. Even I don't love every part of the direction. I can't understand the beginnings of each acts-Onegin watching TV and not quite impressed. Breth also touched some sociology or politics. I thought it went a little too further, but political sense matched quite well for the atmosphere. Mattei was great. His Mozartian soft voice made the character more complicated. All of other casts were fantastic singers & actors(tresses). For new Onegin lovers, I frankly recommend Graham Vick's production. It has irresistable grace and wit, but after that, this performance might add another savour for this masterpiece. "