Tatyana (Natalia Pavlova) carries the production as the country girl who falls for pompous city slicker Eugene (played by Franco Pomponi). She bares her soul to him after falling in love with the man at a dance, but Eugene rebuffs her, and the pain of the rejection was palpable in each note soprano Pavlova hit. When I interviewed the singer, she said when she goes on stage she isn't thinking about her lyrics or stage directions, rather she becomes the character and that was entirely evident last night.
Equally impressive was Tatyana's sister Olga played by Krysty Swanna. While her role is small, Swann stole many a scene and I would have loved to hear more from her. When Onegin cruelly teases Tatyana by dancing with Olga, Olga's love Lensky becomes furious, and Olga and Lensky's fight in song displayed Tchaikovsky's clever score.
Act II concludes with the jealous Lensky challenging Onegin to a duel and you can guess what happens next ... there's a death scene that's about as overly dramatic as what you'd expect from a 19th century opera. While Jamez McCorkle who plays Lensky has an incredible voice and presence, his stage direction in this scene left something to be desired.
But that's where my qualms end.
Eugene Onegin is a stirring piece of theater and director Chen Shi-Zheng deservedly received a long standing ovation at the conclusion of the production. Would I have liked a little more stage direction to fill the space? Sure. But what Eugene Onegin lacked in movement, it more than made up for in song.