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Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin / Khaikin, Vishnevskaya, Et Al

Release Date: 06/15/1999 
Label:  Opera D'oro   Catalog #: 1197   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Galina VishnevskayaSergei LemechevIvan PetrovValentina Petrova,   ... 
Conductor:  Boris Khaikin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre OrchestraBolshoi Theatre Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

For many, the heart of the opera is Tatyana, whose Letter Scene is at the emotional center of the piece. Thus, one appeal of this 1955 performance is Galina Vishnevskaya at the height of her powers. This studio recording, recorded by Melodiya, has been available before on compact disc, on a set issued by Legato Classics. By chance this performance, recorded in sturdy mono, the James Levine, and the 1937 recording on Naxos, are the renditions I have listened to the most. The sound of this set, though not as lively as could be, is certainly acceptable. I have not heard the original LPs, but I am guessing that there is some loss of quality. This Russian set, after the prelude, begins with the duet between Olga and Tatyana, lustily sung by Read more Vishnevskaya and Avdeyeva: clearly this will be an emotional performance. The voices are forward in the mix here, despite Tchaikovsky’s suggestion that the two girls are singing a duet within the house. In the scene that follows, the peasants are gradually brought forward from a distance, which seems a little perverse; they never achieve the energy and zest of the Levine version. Generally, the voices feel very close. They also sound like the native Russian speakers that they were. Vishnevskaya is a near perfect Tatyana, if one assumes that Tatyana, despite her paleness and moony quality, is ready to burst with emotion. Vishnevskaya lets hers explode in the Letter Scene, but is subtle enough to capture the wistfulness and essential sadness as well. She is also able to convey her relative restraint in the finale. I can’t particularly hear innocence in the voice, but neither can I in Tchaikovsky’s lush score. Belov and Lemeshev fulfill their roles well. Lemeshev’s tenor is a high instrument, rather light, but then so is his character. Onegin is one of the least sympathetic heroes in opera; how can one play a cynic who is a subterranean romantic, but who is still willing to kill his friend when it becomes inconvenient not to? And who figures out he is in love, and starts bugging his loved one, only after she is unhappily married. (After being rejected, he spends years traveling, presumably in remorse, à la Byron, but that remorse isn’t dramatized in either the opera or the play. Belov sounds appropriately agitated in the last scenes; he is in good voice.

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Works on This Recording

Eugene Onegin, Op. 24 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya (Soprano), Sergei Lemechev (Tenor), Ivan Petrov (Bass),
Valentina Petrova (Mezzo Soprano), Larissa Avdeyeva (Alto), Eugenia Verbitskaya (Mezzo Soprano),
Georgi Pankov (Bass), Igor Mikhailov (Bass), Andrei Sokolov (Tenor),
Nikolai Timchenko (), Eugene Belov (Baritone)
Conductor:  Boris Khaikin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra,  Bolshoi Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Venue:  Bolshoi Theater, Moscow, Russia 

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