Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Trip to NYC - Day 7 - Eugene Onegin 1

So as you must imagine I'm back to Brazil and shame on me for not posting anything else while I was in NYC, but it was very difficult to do that since I was doing so many things! But last Wednesday's right after the opera I started writing about Onegin so I'm going to skip Tuesday and post Wednesday first, but rest assured there will be a post for Tuesday too!

During the day not much happened, just an immense amount of walking and shopping. But of course I wanna talk about what happened during the evening. Well, me and my mum got out of the hotel rather late, 7:10 and the performance was at 7:30. So we ran the 4 blocks that separated us from Lincoln Center, in opera clothes, so you can only imagine the mess. Loads of laughs though.

At intermission

Well, we did get there in time (THANK GOD!) and went straight to our fabulous seats in the orchestra. I took the traditional Patrick view from my seat picture and the lady beside me stared as if I’d just shot the person sitting in front of me. I looked at her and said “Oh, I have a blog, this picture is a thing” and then the lady said “I thought you had brought a little toy to play with” and I said “Oh no, I’m beyond that age” and you know what she said? “Oh, are you sure?” the bitch! I called her a whore in Portuguese and called it a day since she couldn’t understand a thing I said anyways.

I'm adding a lot of pictures of the production here but rest assured, I didn't take any of them haha

I was really very excited, the opera began with that ripping overture and I was in heaven. There is something very special about the music composed for this opera that really hits home, which is odd since home for me is so far away from Russia. Now the sets! I was really amazed, for the first act we had Larina’s home in the summer time. One of the most incredible sets I ever saw live, it had 3 layers divided by huge glass windows, the front one, the biggest, was the inside of the house. Then a corridor for servants was between the first and third layer which was a beautiful garden with tress and everything. What caught my eye and I found most magical was the sun effect the managed to do with the lighting outside and its effects reflecting on the inside. So you had a real feeling of a day passing by seeing the inside of a house.

The girls begin singing that lovely duet and even though both were behind one of the glass I could hear them perfectly! This staging is so pretty, I absolutely loved it. Because I hadn’t seen a traditional production of Onegin before, the closest was that last one the Met did. But one with actual big sets and chandeliers, not really.

I loved that while there is the first chorus piece of the opera they do a crazy dance with rye being thrown at a girl who’s dancing. I know it sounds very weird when you read it but it looked great on the stage and put a huge smile on my face.

Ah well, Anna is playing a very very shy Tatyana to completely counterpoint her sister who is on fire. Olga’s first aria was lovely and I didn’t like the fact that Gergiev didn’t stop for the applause. Not even for Lensky’s first aria, speaking of which Piotr Beczala is absolutely charming in this role. In his first appearance he shows up all smiling and it’s just adorable. That was also, I think, to counterpoint with Mariusz’s take on Onegin, he played him as a very snobbish and bored person, but well mannered and with some god intentions.

While in normal productions you feel your attention being drawn to the person who is singing in this one, especially in these next scenes, it was very hard to choose where to concentrate. Because even as Lensky professed his love for Olga there was a silent scene going on between Onegin and Tatyana that you also don’t want to miss. This ensemble was quite beautiful. Lensky is left alone with Olga and totally takes his change and gives her a rather long kiss, Lensky you naughtily boy!

Well, the moment we were all waiting for, curtain comes down and when it comes back up some things have been moved and it’s now night at Larina’s house. Guys, this letter scene was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, my heart was beating so fast, Anna did an incredible job, hey, if you don’t like Anna Netrebko, go find a cliff you can jump from and don’t ever return to my blog. This woman is fantastic, her voice is everything we expect and more! Big and darkish, it’s just delicious to listen to her. She really used her stage and her Tatyana went through an amazing emotional journey through the 14 delightful minutes of the letter aria! At a certain point I started crying and I was seriously almost sobbing by the end, especially at the very end. It was just MAGICAL, magic came over me with that gorgeous music and her beautiful voice and heartfelt interpretation.

Well, Onegin comes to her and she is, of course, terrified and humiliated. But I never know what to make of this scene, was that really a polite way to say ‘no’ or did he really care for her and didn’t want her to get hurt? Because today it seemed like a little bit of both. Mariusz did a fantastic job with the scene, commanding it utterly with his powerful amazing voice and acting. For me, it was such an absolute delight to see the three of them perform in an opera together, because they are all great favorites of mine.

Mariusz’s Onegin almost seemed like he was really trying to be the good guy and do the right thing. But then right at the end of the scene, after rejecting her, he goes on and kisses a rather stunned Tatyana. And then simply walks off as he takes a bite out of an apple, end of first act. When he did that I was seriously like “What a jerk!” but that’s Onegin in this scene.

Intermission flew as it always does and act two was upon me before I could say ‘Tchaikovsky’. Curtain’s up and another gorgeous set appears, this time it’s Larina’s house during the winter and we are taken to her ballroom. Big space with some chairs around and big doors that lead to another room in the back, it is quite an amazing effect. It’s Tatyana’s birthday but she’s not liking all the attention very much.

Now, the dances for this act were so beautiful and Mariusz showed everybody he could dance really well leading Olga in every dance to Lensky’s dismay. I was really very dazzled with the staging and the dancing, it was really gorgeous and wrapped up with the most incredible music, it was to die for. But of course we all know what happens at this ball, Lensky is super pissed at Onegin and Onegin is too stuck up and snobbish to just say “I’m sorry, I was joking, I don’t like her, she likes you, go be happy.”. No, he has to have the last laugh and Lensky as the tenor he is won’t be insulted in this way without settling things.

Curtain closes and when we go back there is a completely different scenery, outside cold, cold winter dawn in what seems to be a frozen lake. There are some trees branches scattered around and Lensky is sitting in one of them, and it is there where Piotr Beczala totally destroyed my heart with his amazing aria. So with complete loss of hope in everything his character believed in. I think it’s even more sad because he was such a good jolly fellow just 30 minutes ago. Everyone in the audience agreed and he got quite an ovation after his aria.

Onegin arrives and even though we KNOW what’s going to happen you can’t help but hope that they will part as friends. Oh, and when Onegin actually embraced Lensky I felt the tears coming. And when it was done Onegin immediately went to hold his dear friend’s lifeless body and curtain closes and you are like “WHY DID HE DO THIS?”

I didn’t even feel this intermission I was so ready for the third act! The Polonaise Waltz is one of my favorite musical parts in this opera, because for me, believe it or not, I think it tells a little bit of how Onegin’s life has been since then. Call me crazy, this may be because of that incredible dance they did in the ROH production, but for me the dancing music is telling a story alright!

And how could I have forgotten? Hearing this music being conducted by Gergiev was such an incredible experience. I mean, we are talking about the guy who almost single handily raise the Maryinsky Theater to it’s current glory and who brought amazing Russian repertoire to the West! I had always wanted to see him conduct live ever since the first time I saw him lead the last production of Onegin the Met had in which he told Ramon Vargas to look more at Olga and less at him while he sang his first aria. Never mind the occasional hair combing (which is mandatory), he is on fire on that fit (no pun intended). And also to hear Russian music being sung by an all Slavic soloists cast who actually speak the language is something very rare and wonderful to experience, top that off with the best Russian music conductor nowadays and you reach the skies!

When the curtain comes up we have these huge pillars and a mirrored floor that gives us the idea of a ballroom. This set got an enthusiastic applause from the audience! What I didn’t really like was the dance they made for my dear Polonaise Waltz, so lifeless. Maybe it was to show how different society was in the big city and the countryside. We had Onegin strolling along the room with his charms about him but they didn’t seem to be working and as the song progresses he gets more irritated and starts drinking.

The prince arrives and even though everybody loves this aria I can’t help but be slightly impatient listening to it. Onegin is seeing Tatyana for the first time in years and, some might say, for the first time at all. I’m dying to see how their awkward exchange is going to go, but when I think the Prince’s aria is done he goes right back to the beginning!

Loving how Anna plays her older, mature, ‘nothing can pull me down’ Tatyana. She faces him with a placid expression and nothing betrays her true feelings while Onegin is almost bursting! He sings about his new found feelings for Tatyana and you can feel the pain he’s feeling, the regret and the hope. Mariusz is probably one of the best Onegins I’ve ever seen, because not only does he have a beautiful voice but he is such a fantastic actor. I saw him as Onegin in another production and I love it how he can keep the character fresh and even change him a little bit.

And hearing Onegin sing the melody of the letter song is just so enticing! I always get that ‘It might work out, oh my God what’s gonna happen?’ feeling in this part even though I nearly know the whole last duet by heart! The curtain closes.

For the last scene we still have the pillars and the mirrored floor but now we’re out doors in a cold morning in Saint Petersburg and it’s actually SNOWING on stage. How cool is that? Tatyana comes in distressed and confesses that seeing Onegin has stirred feeling that had been asleep deep inside her heart for so long. Onegin comes into the scene almost desperate and throws himself to her feet taking off his coat in the snow, he must be REALLY in love.

At first Tatyana is very stern and cold trying to get Onegin to get a taste of his own medicine. The colder she gets the more passionate he becomes, not only in his lines but in actions, kind of bearing desperate. I thought it was so heart throbbing when they sing that happiness had been so close to them, the tears started in this point and did not stop. I leaned over in my seat, mouthed the words (super SORTA because I SO don’t speak Russian), and cried! And then when Tatyana finally confesses she’s still in love with him and you see that glimmer of hope in Onegin’s eyes and you just wanna die because you know that nothing will change her mind. Loads of feelings then people, LOADS I tell you! And as they battle each other in the end I couldn’t even think, just weep with my eyes opened, don’t ask me how, it stings and I don’t know how I did it.

Now when Tatyana finally gives that last ripping high note telling Onegin even though she loves him she won’t leave her husband and break her vows. They are so close you can taste it and then she pushes him away. Now, I saw this scene from the HD and let me tell you, Anna was a bit shy and gentle in the HD. Because on Wednesday she didn’t approach him slowly and kissed him tenderly like she did on the HD. She just went for it and it was HOT! The silence was unbelievable. Because throughout the whole performance there are loads of coughing and irritating sounds even during the letter scene. But during the kiss and as Tatyana walked away the silence was absolute, it really felt as if everybody was holding their breaths at the same time. And then Onegin’s heart breaking final phrase finishes to finish your heart out!

The applause was thunderous and before the curtain was up on them again the whole orchestra section was standing and clapping enthusiastically, although 1/4 of the people actually left during curtain call which I think is the RUDEST thing ever! When the curtain call was finally over it was time to fangirl!       

I actually took this picture with my phone
So down to the stage door I went, it wasn’t as cold as I had expected and my mum wasn’t as grumpy, she really liked this opera. Stage door is a great place to make friends, I met a very cool guy and we chatted a bit while we waited for the heroes of our lives to come out. Oddly enough, one of the first ones to come was Anna, and although the stage door was a little bit more crowded than the other days there weren’t many people. I went to talk to her and she actually remembered me, how AMAZING is that? From now on I will always be “the girl who said she looks bad in pictures” BUT I DON’T CARE! I actually got to talk with her a bit about the performance, I told her I cried during her letter scene and she was touched. Anna is an incredibly nice person and very sociable, we talked about some other stuff and then I told her “Anna, you were fantastic, perfect, now go home because you need to rest!” and she said “Oh, thank you, I will! I’m very tired! Good night, see you on Saturday!”. Yeah, this was like, yeah, awesome. We took a fashion pose picture just because.

Then Mauriusz and Piotr had already come out and I was actually indecisive to which should I talk to first. I went with Mariusz and oh my! First of all he is so handsome and charming it’s like, distracting. Second, he is very sweet and so very nice. I told him that the first opera I had ever seen was with him, Don Giovanni and that I loved it, he was really happy. And then I told him I had come from Brazil to watch this opera and he was very stunned and happy. Seriously, he was so nice, I told him I had cried watching the opera, especially in the end and he was delighted, he said “That’s exactly what we want!”.

We took a picture together but it was bad because of the lighting and the crazy people came watering down on him for autographs but swimming against the current of loonies he told me he’d take another picture with me. As we posed my mum started getting unfamiliar with my phone and we were standing there smiling with our hands around each other’s waists. Then the crazy people started taking pictures and I said “Oh, I’ll get out so you can take a solo picture” but he grabbed my hand and pulled me back and said “No, take the pictures with me, enjoy your star moment!”. Yeah, and then the loonies started saying they only wanted him in the picture and as I left the scene I said “Oh fine, I’m not that bad looking you know” and then he took my hand again and said “No, you are actually very good looking, see you on Saturday, hun?” WHAT? Dead Isabela, DEAD! Just dead.

Then I went to talk to Piotr and he was also very nice but kind of in a hurry, but I was so happy about my whole Mariusz thing that I didn’t really care! And to top it all off I met a rather nice Brazilian lady, from my city São Paulo, who was there stage dooring and having a blast also watching all kinds of Met stuff. She is in the same hotel as we are so we walked back to the hotel together talking about all things opera!



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  2. Love your post! You write so emotinally! Just a pleasure to read it through! I'll be waiting for your next posts! I'm happy for you that you could talk to these wonderful singers. I hope I'll do someday too). I watched the HD, I was also blown away by this performance!!!
    I'm a blogger too. Here is my blog http://operabubbles.blogspot.ru/

  3. Me encantó entrar a tu Blog ISABELA, ¡¡IMPRESIONANTE!!! Todo lo que aprendí de este ONEGIN que me hiciste sentir como haber estado alli contigo, eres una privilegiada de disfrutar tanto del mundo de la OPERA, viendo y conociendo a estos gigantes cantantes, sobre todo a la espléndida t bella ANNA, poder viajar, casi te envidio, creo que ste comentario es el mas completo y detatallo de todos los que leí de ONEGIN, que me perdi la trasmisión en directo del MET, Live HD, el día 5 , por una reunión familiar muy importante. Tus fotos espectaculares, la mejor donde estas con ANNA, Te felicito por el BLOG. Un abrazo grande desde ARGENTINA

  4. Eugene Onegin is Opera Brilliant. When play stars are always Furror . Thanks !! "Onegin" forever.