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Oneguine in the Moon

Grand Théâtre
06/10/2002 -  and 14, 17, 20, 23, 25, 27 June 2002
Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovski: Yevgeni Oneguine
Valérie Marestin (Larina), Alexia Cousin (Tatiana), Sophie Pondjiclis (Olga), Brigitta SvŽnden (Philippievna), Laurent Naouri (Oneguine), Marius Brenciu (Lenski), Michail Schelomianski (Prince Grémine), Alexandre Krawetz (Triquet).
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Louis Langrée, (Conductor),
Choir of the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Ching-Lien Wu
Alain Garichot (Producer).
A production of the Opéra de Nancy et Lorraine and the Esplanade de Saint-Etienne.

After having chosen the spectacular with the Contes d’Hoffmann, and the surprising and new with Dido et Aeneas, the new director general of the Théâtre Jean-Marie Blanchard has chosen a production from an other house to close his first season. It is a return to a more traditional type of production, which does not mean that it is without interest. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to concentrate solely on the music without the artifices that we had the pleasure or the displeasure to see.

The curtains open on a forest of brown barked trees; sadly not a birch forest which would be more authentically Russian. Among these trees sit a mother Larina and her two daughters Tatiana and Olga. The peasants are coming back from work in their ample and raw linen and pufajkas worn by the men. They dance to a joyful Russian melody. The non-Russian choir of Geneva performs greatly the difficult Russian text. Appears the Mediterranean looking dark bearded Oneguine (Laurent Naouri) with Lenski (Marius Brenciu). The Rumanian singer from Brassov, Brenciu, reveals a great tenor voice. Naouri sings this Russian role well, but is an even better actor, transmitting the feelings of Oneguine: first a careless dandy and then a man suffering from love.

These trees remain in the ball scene, as if the ball was a garden party, at which Lenski provokes a dual with Oneguine. And, the next morning the forest is still there as the scene of the dual. But they disappear, finally, in Act III, leaving only a big round moon as decorum. Oneguine is alown isolated in the middle of masked dancers, among people but still alone with the planet of melancholy. Here, at this other ball, he meets Tatiana, again after many years, married to the old prince Gremine, who sings a beautiful air about his joy to be married to Tatiana. As a true Russian bass, Michail Schelomianski performs most authentically and with all the soul needed, this air, which was certainly one of the best performed airs of this production.

We should not forget to mention Alexia Cousin that is a very young singer, 23, but already so professional. Clear voiced and capable of maintaining homogeneity all through the scale of her voice. The orchestra had some difficulty to interpret the emotions and melancholy, but Louis Langrée managed quite well towards the end.

Zoltan Bécsi



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