Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Think before you write a letter (Onegin/Grange Park)

Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra cond. Gianluca Marciano Grange Park Opera) 
My second and final visit to Grange Park this year was for the general rehearsal of Eugene Onegin. As has now opened, I can make some comments. This is an utterly delightful production - charming in the way of Nicholas Joël’s Met Rondine (review), with a similar belle époque setting. Strictly, it may have been set a bit earlier, but had a similar sort of feel. One might have wandered in to pages of Tolstoy. Through the series of vignettes insights into every social stratum of Russian society is offered.
Image: Grange Park Opera
The same basic set was used throughout. Three walls of sunlight coming through birch trees. A large ivory “metalwork” balcony provides the space to the set. In the first scene jam is made and bottled on it; during the peasant dances  authentic and perfect in execution; later on dancing somehow fits on to it. And the perfect backdrop for a duel. A staircase was added in the final scene.
Image: Grange Park Opera
This performance was singularly memorable. Susan Gritton was unwell and so did not sing; whilst she was on stage, an exceptionally heroic Assistant Conductor (Patrick Milne) stepped in and sang the part from the front of the stalls. Reminiscent of Siegfried’s discovery of Brünnhilde on the rock, the director apologized that ‘Patrick is not a woman’.Could Helden-soprano be a thing?   Lensky (Jung Soo Yun) was marvellous and Ongein (Brett Polegato) sensational. Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts as M. Triquet channelled his inner Gerard Depardieu for some dance-floor comedy reminiscent of the ‘Saturday-night fever’ in Potiche. So charming was the production, that not even Tatayana's illness impaired out enjoyment too much.

Overall: an absolute delight. Were the more dates available, I would have considered a repeat trip. 

Performances: 15/7 and 18/7.

Creative Team and Cast
Conductor:  Gianluca Marciano
Director:  Stephen Medcalf
Designer:  Francis O’Connor
Lighting Designer:  Paul Keogan
Choreographer:  Lynne Hockney
Onegin:  Brett Polegato
Tatyana:  Susan Gritton
Lensky:  Jung Soo Yun
Olga:  Rebecca Afonwy-Jones
Madam Larina:  Anne-Marie Owens
Filipyevna:  Rebecca de Pont Davies
Prince Gremin: Alan Ewing
Monsieur Triquet:  Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Sung in Russian with surtitles

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