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First performed in Moscow in 1879, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is the product of an astonishing emergence of great musical talents in Russia during a brief period following the 1850s.
During this time, new experiments with Russian-language opera employed traditions imported from western Europe, as well as features derived from native sources.
Similarly, Russian literary sources offered story lines that differed from the more common German and Italian operatic traditions of Tchaikovsky’s day. In the case of Eugene Onegin, it was Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse, long considered a classic of Russian literature, that served as the basis for the opera.
The libretto, written by Tchaikovsky, retains much of the poetry in Pushkin’s work, Combined with the composer’s dramatic score—which includes all of the characteristics modern audiences love about his instrumental music—Eugene Onegin has gone on to become a well-known example of lyric opera.
And while long-neglected outside Russia, the opera, with its ravishing melodies and masterful manipulation of orchestral color, has become one of the most frequently performed Russian operas in the world within the last few decades.
Tickets to the Minnesota Opera’s production of Eugene Onegin are not included in tuition. However, registered participants will receive information for a 20 percent discount on tickets to the performance of their choice.
Daniel Freeman, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has taught courses in music history at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Institution. Considered the world’s leading historian in the field of 18th-century Czech music, Freeman also is a musicologist and pianist.
Offered in cooperation with the Minnesota Opera