Mariusz Treliński’s Eugene Onegin originated in Warsaw but was filmed in Valencia. It’s distinctly on the Regietheater end of the spectrum but it’s intense and oddly compelling. The sets are spare and almost abstract. A silent character, O***, is interpolated. he’s a sort of Commendatore’s ghost who comments on the action and interacts with characters at key moments; with Tatiana during the letter scene and with Lensky before the duel for example. A lot of action takes place in front of the pit, usually simultaneously with action further back on stage making for quite complex (and hard to film) visuals.
There are other aspects of the production that are decidedly unusual. The name day ball in act 2 looks more like a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil performance than anything one might see on a country estate in Russia. There are ballet dancers on aerial wires, bizarre colours and dog masks. It’s also very dark making the filming problems more acute. There’s also a zombie ballet at the start of Act 3.
Whatever one thinks of the production there are some fine performances. It’s a youngish cast with both Kristine Opolais’ Tatyana and Artur Ruciński’s Onegin looking and sounding more age appropriate than normal. Opolais, in particular, does a really good job of portraying a girl on the edge of womanhood with a credible, precarious maturity in act 3. Ruciński has a dangerous air about him that makes his behaviour in act 2 seem more credible. Both sing rather beautifully. Lena Belkina is a very Russian sounding (and very pretty) Olga. her vivaciousness is a fine offset to Tatyana’s brooding. Dmitry Korchak’s Lensky seems a little anonymous but he manages a fine Kuda, kuda. The orchestra under Omer Meir Wellber sounds fine.
Tiziano Mancini’s video direction is a bit mixed. As previously noted this is a tough production to film. Some of the time he goes with the flow. At other points he resorts to weird angles and gimmicks. That said it’s not a bad effort. I watched it on DVD where the picture quality was sorely tested at times but I imagine the Blu-ray version would be better. The DTS surround sound is perfectly adequate. The North American release is on Kultur and documentation is minimal. The European release and the Blu-ray may be better. Subtitle options are English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
This is definitely worth a look for a challenging production and some fine performances. For first timers though Robert Carsen’s superbly elegant version may be preferred.