The much-loved Russian composer Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is best known in the music community for his stirring orchestral works, but such a view does the great man a disservice.
Tchaikovsky is also the author of several operas, including the increasingly popular “Eugene Onegin,” which is currently playing at the Metropolitan Opera and will soon be seen in high-definition at the Douglass Theatre.
To my astonishment, this telling of a prophetic tale by famed Russian author Alexander Pushkin is not included in Milton Cross’s “Complete Stories of the Great Operas,” thought by some to be the “Opera Bible.”
When this production originally opened at the Met several years ago, it was met by demonstrators protesting Vladimir Putin’s treatment of gays. Putin is in the news for different reasons these days. Another change: popular baritone Dimitri Hvorostovsky originally was scheduled to sing the title role, but his treatment for brain cancer has resulted in his withdrawal.
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Pushkin’s tale is not a happy one, and in Tchaikovsky’s hands, the moral tenor of this romance is unimproved, but the music of this great composer is said to soar. Anna Netrebko is the steadfast Tatiana, and Peter Mattei plays the title role, in this case the portrait of a self-centered aristocrat who receives perhaps his just deserts.
Tchaikovsky being a romantic, Onegin has often been likened to a brooding Byronic hero, but the audience can decide for itself.
The plot, in brief, tells of two sisters, Tatiana and Olga, the latter of whom becomes engaged to Lenski. Unfortunately, the inexperienced Tatiana falls in love and writes a moving letter to Onegin in one of the opera’s great scenes. Also, she is rebuffed, and Onegin cautions her that a lesser man might take advantage of her. Sometime later, when Onegin becomes bored, he flirts with Olga, with the result that the two friends fight a foolish duel, and Lenki is killed.
Years pass and Onegin again encounters Tatiana. Does she still love him? The answer to that question and the unfolding of subsequent events bring this moving work to a close.
When: 12:55 p.m. April 22
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and the Galleria Mall Stadium Cinemas 15, 2980 Watson Blvd., Warner Robins
Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors and students