Friday, 30 March 2012

Eugene Onegin at the Exeter Northcott Theatre 'Letter from Natasha'

Even before Natasha heard Ad-Hoc's 'Rachmaninov Vespers 1915' at St Mary Arches Church last Friday, she was at the first performance of Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin' at the Exeter Northcott Theatre.

With a little encouragement, Natasha agreed to give her honest opinion of this very daring experiment - translating Tchaikovsky into English. What would a native Russian have to say about that?

Here are Natasha's thoughts . . .

You want me to say/write something about this ''Eugene Onegin'' production, but I don't know even where to start ??? Haha!

First there is very good proper article in a leaflet done by ETO baritone Jonathan Gunthorpe. Not very often you can find so highly informatively accurate and substantial content in theatre programme leaflets. Wonderful job done! Translation in English (instead of traditional law of singing on the original language) (first in my life Tchaikovsky, and Rossini(!) in English) actually gives more theatrical action involved. I would say, that is also very well done! It worked well for the whole drama, which this opera based on!

For me is very important, that in this production the whole these ''lyrical scenes'', (as Tchaikovsky called his opera),was absolutely immaculately performed (to start with fantastic soloists, then choir and orchestra , then costumes then this wonder-mirror, multifunctional, doing the volume, transparency psychological projections)---every part of all complicated opera mechanism worked unimpeachably well. Not very often you can say so , always you can find something to regret, or to wish to be improved or altered, but in this production of ''Eugene Onegin'' I couldn't find what to wish better! I've listen this opera I don't know how many times. I know every chord and tune and word, I was doubt even to go again and listen again,.... BUT I ENJOYED IT LIKE A FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, when I seen a movie-opera with young Tayana Vishnevsky as Tatyana Larina. ... I was really listen all these well known tunes and chords with a growing interest and enthusiasm from the beginning to the very end!

What I also must emphasize as a positive feature of performance---it's a very good choice of musical tempo's. The whole thing sometimes in Russia, as I remember 20 years ago in Bolshoi Theatre, was always a bit slower according to all these archaic feudal style of village estate life, gardens working songs, was very often sentimentally slowing down a bit the whole thing. But I like this English 21 century very modern dynamic, which adds much more to the whole music drama of ''Eugene Onegin''.

I even start thinking of going and listening it again. Ha-ha!

Actually you see , my dear , it's a very-very long talk, and I'm not sure which a direction you would prefer to hold?? Give an idea, please!!!

One idea springs immediately to mind - let's get Natasha into the Phonic FM studio to tell us more.

This Tuesday (3rd April) we can start our 'Romantic' sequence with some Tchaikovsky at 11am, and hear more of Natasha's thoughts about Russian music for an English audience - leading on to Rachmaninov, of course.

Also stay tuned to hear Exeter composer Simon Belshaw at 11.30am. He will be in the studio to talk about his latest composition 'Between the Moon and the Earth' which will be played by 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds' - Julie Hill (violin), Andrew Gillett (viola), Jane Pirie ('cello) and Emma Welton (double bass) - at their inaugural concert of new music at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday 27th May. More details to follow.

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