In the impressive outdoor setting of the courtyard of the
12th century Castelnau castle at Prudhomat in the Lot, Opéra
Eclaté gave a recent performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin
-- a co-production with Opera Fribourg, directed by Eric Perez
and with setting designed by Ruth Gross.
St. Céré Music Festival Venue
Like most of the St Céré Festival's productions
the design is simple, but very effective, making the most of
limited resources. Here six translucent panels enclosed the
stage, changing colour with backlighting, to follow the mood
of the drama, and moving to create suitable spaces.
In the opening scene Karine Motyka (Olga) worked hard to create
the illusion of a vivacious young girl as she jumped and skipped
about the stage, her full, well balanced, richly coloured and
mature mezzo voice giving the lie to her theatrical portrayal
Tatiana (Ekaterina Godovanets) was, in deliberate contrast,
very static as she read her book and sang rather quietly with
little colour. At first she looked and sounded like a very gawky,
rather sulky, teenager. A little later in the same scene she
briefly transformed into a beautiful young woman, as she caught
the audience with an ecstatic gaze and dreamed of romantic love,
"une reveuse". This hint of a suppressed passionate
nature almost made what follows credible.
Tatiana and Onegin
The panels were used to even greater effect when the backlighting
was switched off and they became white, to form the pages on
which Tatiana writes to Onegin in the famous "Letter Scene".
(I foolishly wondered why I couldn't read the words until I
realised they were in Russian)!
Ms Godvanets shaped the long solo aria very well. Building
the passion in her declaration of love, step by step, her performance
opened up vocally and dramatically. The pianissimo passages
were floated with a rare and very beautiful colour and her transformation
into an attractive young girl was subtle but very real. She
was entirely capable of fully exploiting the emotional impact
of this scene, which is so central to the work. In doing so
she was ably aided by the dialogue with the orchestra and its
woodwind soloists. This was definitely the high point of the
Svetislav Stojanovic (Lensky) has a sharp edged tenor voice,
which had no difficulty penetrating the dead outdoor acoustic.
With his lean masculine figure he persuasively portrayed his
youthful love for Olga and later, in the ball scene, he convincingly
acted his outrage at the behaviour of Onegin. His solo aria
before the duel (Act II Scene 2) was sung very well.
Not outraged, but certainly outrageous, was Eric Vignau whose
highly camp and mannered presentation of the minor buffo role
of M. Triquet was matched only by his costume. His was a rather
special sort of "trouser role" and as always he excels
in this type of part.
Sergei Stilmachenko (Onegin) was very un-engaging in the early
scenes. His portrayal was heavy with boredom and cynicism but
lacking any sort of charm which might possibly attract and enchant
a young girl. His voice did not impress either. Whilst he projected
adequately, there were no touches of quality which made you
sit up and take notice and here and there his sense of rhythm
was not shared by the orchestra.. To carry off this role one
needs to have a certain charisma and attractiveness behind the
bored facade. Otherwise, in the final scene, you have not built
any sympathy for this character who, having killed his best
friend, is then rejected in his turn by the woman he still loves
but spurned as a young girl. M. Stilmachenko did not manage
to create and inhabit this part.
In the third act, four years later, Ms Godovanets transformed
herself once again as the wife of Prince Gremin. Now she was
a beautiful young woman with true nobility of bearing.
Jean-Claude Sarragosse (Prince Gremin) sang nicely, but his
tall, handsome fortyish looks were too young for the part, and
one could well understand that Tatiana would choose him instead
Hermine Huguenel (Mme Larine) and Beatrice Burley (Filipievna,
Tatiana's nurse), sang very well, both having warm voices and
sympathetic demeanours, but surely a nurse should have a different,
less refined vocal colour from a member of the minor nobility?
Something more was needed here to emphasize their individuality.
The chorus was well schooled by Inna Petcheniouk, and their
voices blended properly, creating a very pleasing ensemble.
The Festival Orchestra was very expertly directed by Dominique
Trottein. He extracted the essence of the drama and beauty from
the orchestral writing and drove it along, or held it back for
the more poetic moments, with well chosen tempos. One couldn't
expect the rich colours of a full orchestra playing Tchaikovsky
from such a small ensemble but, once one had adjusted one's
aural expectations, it certainly did not disappoint.
Pictures are from the Fribourg production. © Opéra
de Fribourg and are taken from resmusica's review http://resmusica.com/2011/01/03/onegin-trop-exigeant-pour-fribourg/