Arts & Events

Updated: A Superb EUGENE ONEGIN At Livermore Valley Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:47:00 PM

On Sunday, September 29, I made my first ever venture to Livermore Valley Opera for a production of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. To say that I was surprised by how excellent was this production is understated praise. I have seen many Eugene Onegins, including one from the Bolshoi Opera I saw in Paris in 1969 conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich in his first visit ever outside the Soviet Union. That was indeed memorable! However, this Livermore Valley Opera production of Eugene Oregon ranks up there with the best. As Tatiana, soprano Antonina Chehovska was sensational! What a voice! It’s bright, it’s warm, and it’s radiant! Chehovska’s “Letter scene” was a thing of utmost beauty! I hung on every word she sang. As Onegin, baritone Morgan Smith was excellent. He has a powerful voice, almost too powerful a voice. While he needs to control it a bit to vary the dynamics, Smith sang beautifully and forcefully.  

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit was a very fine Olga, faithfully delivering her character’s insouciant attitude towards life. Tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven was a gripping Lensky, although his voice almost never ventured below forte or fortissimo. Mezzo-soprano Michelle Rice was a fine Madame Larina, as she delivered her repeated lines, “Routine is given us by heaven to substitute for happiness.” Mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakas was a convincing Filipievna, nurse to the Larina daughters. Prince Gremin was majestically sung by bass Andrew Potter. Tenor Joe Frank was an amusing Monsieur Triquet.  

Alexander Katsman conducted, and Candace Evans was responsible for the staging. I quibble with director Evans’ initial move of having a silent Onegin appear at stage left during the overture and into the first moments of the opening scene at the Larina estate. Onegin has no place there! Aside from this opening gaffe, the staging, though not outstanding, was more than adequate. Overall, this was a sublime Eugene Onegin. It repeats on October 5 at 7:00 and October 6 at 2:00.