Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin - Lyrical scenes in 3 acts;
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, based on a novel by Alexander Pushkin; First performed on 29th March 1879 in Moscow; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 28th September 1996
Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)
In Russian with German and English surtitles

The young poet Lenski is engaged to fun-loving Olga. When he introduces his friend Eugene Onegin to Larina, his future mother-in-law and a landowner, in her country house, Olga's sister Tatjana, a shy dreamer, is vastly impressed by Onegin and falls in love with this man of the world. In a letter she confesses her love to him, but he remains insensitive to her feelings and rejects her. Tatjana's unhappiness intensifies when, by way of provoking his friend Lenski, Onegin courts Olga during a ball at her mother's house. An argument ensues. The jealous Lenski senselessly challenges Onegin to a duel and is killed. Onegin escapes and goes abroad. Years later he returns to his home country. At a glamorous party in St. Petersburg he bumps into Tatjana, who is now married to Prince Gremin. Filled with sorrow, Onegin realizes what it is that he has lost. He is passionate in his endeavours to win Tatjana back, but she declares that she will honour her marriage vows although she still loves him. Onegin remains behind, alone.

EUGENE ONEGIN is, along with PIQUE DAME, Pyotr I. Tschaikovsky's best-known opera and among his most beautiful works written for the stage. Finding a suitable subject had been difficult as he was very specific about what he wanted: »I desire nothing that forms part of the so-called Grand Opera. I am looking for an intimate but forceful drama that derives from a conflict that really touches me. Not that I scorn the fantastic at all; the fantastic knows no obstacles since the realm of fantasy knows no limits.« [letter of January 14th 1878]

Eugene Onegin, a verse novel very much in the Pushkin vein, corresponded closely to what he was looking for. The outer sequence of events seemed unspectacular, except for the duel, but the conflicts of the persons involved immediately touched hearts and in many respects reflected Tschaikovsky's own experiences. The full spectrum of emotions - melancholy, longing, passion and grief over a life wasted –influences a musical landscape enriched by stirring choruses and lively dances and enhanced by folkloristic elements.

Program and cast

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March 2019

Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.

Deutsches Opernhaus, 1912
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.

© Günter Karl Bose
© © Günter Karl Bose
© Bettina Stöß
© © Bettina Stöß
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