Pyotr Tchaikovsky began composing for music theatre at the end of 1860’s. By that time he was already a well-known composer of instrumental music and a master of musical arrangements.
However success in the opera music came to him much later. It is probably hard to believe, but for a long time Tchaikovsky himself, his friends and colleagues had doubts whether he was going to make it as an opera composer or not. As it turned out he just needed to find his own path. After writing a historical opera, phantasmagorical and a comic ones Tchaikovsky realized that his strength was in his ability to convincingly convey emotions and feelings of his characters. The first work of this kind was Eugene Onegin (1878) with composer’s note “lyrical scenes”. Its performance on the opera stage was a true triumph of the composer. In Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky did not intend to reveal deepest philosophic ideas of Pushkin's novel, he focused on main characters – Tatiana, Onegin and Lensky. Three acts of the opera are three dramatic love stories. The first is about Tatiana and her drama, the second one is about Lensky and his tragis death, and the third one is Onegin’s drama, the final scene of which leads to destruction of all Onegin’s hopes. However Tchaikovsky did not forget about other characters creating beautiful musical portraits such as the aria of Olga and aria of Prince Gremin that have become world musical treasures and often are performed in concerts.
Without being “an encyclopidia of Russian life” like the original poem, Tchaikovsky’s opera delicately restores an atmosphere of nobility’s life, immediately immersing the audience in the nineteenth century. The scene of a home concert when young ladies played or sang music (duet of Tatiana and Olga), choir of peasant girls picking berries, the chorus and dance of peasants who came to the mension to tell the “noble mother” about finishing the harvest – they all convey the warmth and charming simplicity of country life of the Russian nobility.
What a colorful mix of a provincial country festivity in the house of the Larin’s with simple dances, stories of hunters and old ladies’ gossiping, a comic French guest and young girls picking on a company commander! In contrast to it there is a scene from the high society – a ball reception in the city palace of Prince Gremin opens with a solemn polonaise!
The production of this opera on the Primorsky Stage is done by wellknown St Petersburg artists – the Meritorious Artist of Russia Alexei Stepanyuk, and the People’s Artist of Russia Vyacheslav Okunev. They preserved the tradition of so called big style. This production rich with historical costumes will remind the audience the famous Eugene Onegin of the Mariinsky Theatre.