In the garden of her country estate, Madame Larina and her servant Filippyevna sit and discuss their days of once being youthful after hearing Larina’s two daughters, Tatyana and Olga sing about love from inside the house. After a hard day’s work, peasants enter the garden bringing harvested hay from the fields and celebrating the bountiful yields. Olga joins in the merriment and teases Tatyana for reading her novels instead. When the festivities start to wane and the peasants take their leave, Lensky and Eugene Onegin arrive. Madame Larina and Filippyevna return to the house leaving the girls alone with the boys. After a while of light conversation, Lensky confesses his love to Olga and they disappear. Onegin and Tatyana meander through the garden talking about life. As night falls, the couples go inside to eat dinner.
After dinner, Tatyana retires to her bedroom. Filippyevna enters and Tatyana asks her about love. Filippyevna recounts her stories, but the restless Tatyana sits impatiently. Finally, she confesses to Filippyevna that she is in love with Eugene Onegin. Filippyevna leaves and Tatyana writes a love letter to Onegin. She is so nervous, she barely sleeps through the night. The following morning, she gives the letter to Filippyevna, so she can deliver it to Onegin.
Onegin arrives later that day to give Tatiana his answer. Though he was moved and flattered by her letter, he admits that he is not suited for marriage – he would grow bored in a matter of weeks and would seek something new. Though she possesses all the qualities he finds attractive in a woman, he turns her down as gentlemanly as possible. Still, Tatiana runs away brokenhearted.
After several months have passed, Madame Larina hosts a party in her country manor to celebrate Tatyana ‘s name day. Many guests are in attendance, including Lensky and Onegin. Onegin has begrudgingly tagged along at Lensky‘s request. Onegin quickly becomes bored with the country lifestyle and decides to dance with Olga in order to make Lensky jealous. Olga is flattered and enjoys Onegin’s attention, nearly forgetting of her engagement to Lensky. Lensky is quick to catch on Onegin’s trickery, and soon the men squabble and interrupt the party. Madame Larina tries unsuccessfully to remove them from the house. Lensky, no matter how hard he tries to remain calm, challenges Onegin to a duel.
The following morning, Lensky and his second man await for Onegin’s arrival. Lensky, regretful of the previous evening’s events, imagines Olga’s life without him and how she would sadly visit his grave. Finally, Onegin shows up with his second man. Both friends, now with their backs to each other, sing how they would rather laugh together than be here in this situation. Sadly, neither one of them can set aside their pride, and Onegin delivers the fatal shot to Lensky‘s chest.
Several years later, Onegin finds himself in St. Petersburg at another meaningless party – this time at his cousin’s extravagant ball – after having traveled extensively across Europe. Despite his travels, Onegin could not alleviate the guilt of his best friend’s death, nor could he find happiness. Suddenly, across the room, Onegin sees an exquisitely gowned Tatiana descending a staircase. No longer a country girl, Tatyana is poised and proper. Onegin pulls aside his cousin, Prince Gremin, to ask about her. Gremin proudly replies that she is his wife of two years and his saving grace. Gremin introduces Tatiana to him, unknowing of their past history, and the two have a polite conversation. Tatiana tactfully excuses herself, and Onegin’s heart burns with desire.
Onegin finds Tatiana alone and confesses his love for her. Confused, Tatiana wonders if he is in love with her or if it is her social standing. He swears that his love for his is genuine, but she does not give in. She is brought to tears and recounts how happy their lives could have been, as well as how she still has feelings for him…
Don’t miss out on Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin when hits the Ordway stage for 5 performances, October 31-November 8, 2020. Get your tickets at mnopera.org/eugene-onegin.