My first “Eugene Onegin” at the Metropolitan Opera was on December 28, 1992.
Between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day that year, my parents had taken my brothers and me to New York, where we caught performances of “The Nutcracker” at New York City Ballet and “Eugene Onegin” at the Metropolitan Opera.
In advance of the “Eugene Onegin” performance, my parents had informed my brothers and me that we were free to declare, at the end of each act, whether we wanted to remain at the performance. My brothers and I had no trouble sitting through the entire opera.
The December 28, 1992, performance was the penultimate presentation of the 1957 Metropolitan Opera production of “Eugene Onegin”. The production was to be retired—at the conclusion of thirty-five years of service—after its final presentation three days later, on New Year’s Eve.
Rolf Gérard had been the designer for the 1957 “Eugene Onegin”. The original stage director had been Peter Brook.
At the 1992 performance we attended, we heard Ljuba Kazarnovskaya (Tatiana), Dwayne Croft (Onegin) and Jerry Hadley (Lensky). James Levine was conductor.
My grandparents had witnessed the same production in 1958, when the Metropolitan Opera’s annual tour had included a performance of “Eugene Onegin” in Minneapolis.
My parents and my grandmother attended the same production in 1980, when the Met once again toured “Eugene Onegin” to Minneapolis—and my parents caught the production a further time in 1985, when the Met brought “Eugene Onegin” to Minneapolis for the production’s final Twin Cities appearance.
My second “Eugene Onegin” at the Met was on February 23, 2002.
We caught a performance that year during a family gathering in New York. I had flown in from Vienna, my older brother had flown in from London, my middle brother had flown in from Denver, and my parents had flown in from the Twin Cities. (At the time, it was easier for us to gather in New York for quick visits than anywhere else.)
2002 was our first encounter with the 1997 Robert Carsen production of “Eugene Onegin”.
At the 2002 performance, we heard Solveig Kringelborn (Tatiana), Thomas Hampson (Onegin) and Marcello Giordani (Lensky). Vladimir Jurowski was conductor.
My third “Eugene Onegin” at the Met was on February 18, 2009.
That year, my parents and Joshua and I had met in New York over Presidents’ Day Weekend—my parents had flown in from the Twin Cities while Josh and I had driven down from Boston—and we had elected to hear “Eugene Onegin” at the Met that weekend rather than Puccini’s “La Rondine” (it was not an easy decision for us, as I recall).
We witnessed, once again, the Carsen production.
At the 2009 performance, we heard Karita Mattila (Tatiana), Thomas Hampson (Onegin) and Piotr Beczala (Lensky). Jiří Bělohlávek was conductor.
“Eugene Onegin” is the only opera I have heard at the Met as many as four times.
The “Eugene Onegin” we attended ten days ago was the first Met performance Josh had attended in which Karita Mattila had NOT been the featured soprano (in succession, we had heard Mattila at the Met in “Jenufa”, “Salome”, “Manon Lescaut” and “Eugene Onegin”). Indeed, poor Josh had taken to calling the Met “The Karita Mattila Opera Company”.
We shall return to New York in February to attend the Met’s new production of Alexander Borodin’s “Prince Igor”.
Happily, we are all very partial to Russian opera.
Because there are no opportunities to hear Russian opera in the Twin Cities, we often make a point of catching Russian opera elsewhere whenever and wherever we may (such as Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina”, which we caught in January in Paris).
Next month, we intend to catch Richard Strauss’s “Arabella” at Minnesota Opera and Bedřich Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride” at University Of Minnesota Opera Theatre.
However, we have been known, as performance dates approach, to scratch things off our calendars. Nonetheless, I very much doubt we shall skip “Arabella”: Strauss operas are not often staged in the Twin Cities (nor Smetana operas, for that matter).