07/24/2021 - & July 28, August 6, 12, 20, 26, 2021
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Op. 24
Sara Jakubiak (Tatyana), Lucas Meachem (Eugene Onegin), Dovlet Nurgeldiyev (Lensky), Avery Amereau (Olga), James Creswell (Prince Gremin), Katharine Goeldner (Larina), Deborah Nansteel (Filipyevna), Matthew DiBattista (Monsieur Triquet), Allen Michael Jones (Zaretsky), Ethan Vincent (Captain), Joseph Tancredi (Peasant)
Santa Fe Opera Chorus, Susanne Sheston (Chorus Mistress), Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, Nicholas Carter (Conductor)
Alessandro Talevi (Director), Gary McCann (Scenic/Costume Design), Rick Fisher (Lighting Design), Rick Sordelet (Fight Director), Abigail Sandler (Assistant Stage Director)
S. Jakubiak (© Curtis Brown for SFO)
The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) 2021 season kicked off with a most interesting Marriage of Figaro on July 10th (read here), and the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by composer John Corigliano and librettist Mark Adamo. The unrolling of the season continued last night with a luxury Eugene Onegin, based on Pushkin’s monumental verse novel.
Stage director Alessandro Talevi and scenic/costume designer Gary McCann are both prominent names in the operatic microcosm. Here, they team up to offer an interesting and reimagined presentation of Tchaikovsky’s opera. The sets are visually superb and the views of Onegin’s estate in the background of the stage, with its boarded windows, under a golden sun, or the blue light of the moon, are simply splendid. Bravo to Rick Fisher for such dramatic lighting. The last scene, bringing back Act I’s set is an equally luminous finding. To explore the theme of the cruelty of social conventions of the time (resulting here in Onegin killing his best friend) the staging introduces therianthropic figures that take the place of the chorus during dance scenes. With their macabre choreography, glittering costumes and ghoulish masks, they make an overpowering statement that, unfortunately, clashes with the music of Act I’s cotillion or the later Polonaise. Lastly, the treatment of Monsieur Triquet, lying on top of an upright piano that crosses the stage and back while he is pretending to swim, is not exactly the epitome of good taste.
Musically, we are at the best level. Sara Jakubiak’s Tatyana is highly convincing. Her wide soprano may lack a variety of colors at times, but the voice is well-suited for the role. She successfully completes the demanding letter scene, and her rejection of Onegin in Act III is a moment to behold. Baritone Lucas Meachem is bumptious and haughty in his dismissal of Tatyana, pathetic and broken in the final confrontation. The voice is large, with an attractive timbre and an eloquent singing line. Tenor Dovlet Nurgeldiyev gives an exciting account of Lensky, with some ringing moments. His aria before the duel is irreproachable in style and greeted with substantial applause. Contralto Avery Amereau portrays a frolicsome and flirtatious Olga, while Matthew DiBattista as Monsieur Triquet adequately sings his party piece couplets, staying away from caricatured preciosity. Bass James Creswell is a resonant and classy Prince Gremin. Allen Michael Jones (Zaretsky), Katharine Goeldner (Larina), Deborah Nansteel (Filipyevna) bring their talented contribution to a brilliant singing cast.
Nicholas Carter conducts a warm and passionate performance. Attacks are crisp, and the full range of musical colors and atmospheric subtleties of the score is superbly addressed. The SFO orchestra brings out a crystal clear and lush sound. The SFO chorus, discreetly positioned on bleachers, house left, is equally radiant.
Santa Fe Opera