P. I. Tchaikovsky


“Eugene Onegin”


Lyrical scenes in 2 acts

Libretto by P. I. Tchaikovsky and K. Shilovsky

According to the novel of the same name in verses by A.S. Pushkin



Eugene Onegin 

Vladimir Lensky 

Larina, landowner 

Tatyana Larina

Olga Larina 

Filippyevna, the nanny

Prince Gremin 



Trike, the Frenchman



Peasants and peasant women, landowners and landowners, guests at the ball, officers


Symphony orchestra, choir and ballet of Abay Kazakh state academic opera and ballet theater


Production team:


Production-conductor, Chief Conductorof Abay SATOB - Kanat Omarov

Production director - Irina Lychagina (Russia)

Production designer - Karina Avtandilova (Russia)

Lighting designer - Kevin Wyn-Jones (Sweden)

Video-artist - Ineta Sipunova (Latvia)

Director assistant - Natalia Kagadiy

Chief choirmaster - Aliya Temirbekova



   One of the most famous and significant operas of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is consideredto be “Eugene Onegin”.


   For more than 140 years, the masterpiece of Pushkin - Tchaikovsky “Eugene Onegin”retains its high repertoire rating.


   The initial idea of writing an opera on the plot of A. Pushkin did not come to Tchaik-ovsky himself. The famous opera singer of that era, Elizaveta Lavrovskaya, for whose talent Tchai-kovsky had deep respect, prompted the composer to turn to the plot of Pushkin’s novel. At thevery beginning, the idea and plot did not attract Tchaikovsky’s attention, but the more he plungedinto the lines of Pushkin’s works, the more he “obeyed an invincible inner attraction” to work withthis material.


   “Let my opera be not scenic,” - he wrote to his brother Modest, - “even if there is littleaction in it, but I am in love with Tatiana’s image, I am fascinated by Pushkin’s poems and writemusic to them because I am drawn to this.” It is this passionate, sincere impulse and great enthu-siasm of the composer that create in his opera a special charm of sincere immediacy, freshnessand warmth of expression.


   Of course, as is often the case, Tchaikovsky had to abandon the poet’s completelyoriginal text, guided by the conventions of the stage genre, which often dictates its own laws, sodifferent from the laws of literary narration. When creating an operatic libretto, the composershowed considerable ingenuity: first, the expressive Pushkin’s characteristics, which are present-ed in the novel on behalf of the author, the composer put into the mouths of the charactersthemselves, conveying their inner spiritual experiences; secondly, he decided to combine thepoems of Pushkin, with others, including his own. All this allowed the opera to become the idealof an “intimate but strong drama” in which real people and their real lives become the maincharacters.


   Historically it is known that the premiere of the opera “Eugene Onegin” took place inMoscow on the stage of the Maly Theater on March 17, 1879 by students of the Moscow Conserva-tory and had a chamber character. The orchestra consisted of 32 instrumentalists, a chorus of 48students. The “lyrical scenes” were conducted by Nikolai Rubinstein (founder and first director ofthe Moscow Conservatory), directed by Ivan Samarin (theater actor), choirmaster Karl Albrecht. Alittle later, for the stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theater in St. Peters-burg, Tchaikovsky made another version, turning the “lyrical scenes” into a “great opera”.


   Thus, during the lifetime of the composer, two versions of the opera were created. Thefirst is the Moscow version of the author, in which Tchaikovsky made a significant departure fromPushkin’s novel - in the final picture Tatyana fell into Onegin’s arms! The second, later, Petersburgversion, in which Tatiana denies Onegin and utters the key words for understanding the meaningof the whole opera: “I am now given to another .... I will be faithful to him a century” .. Versions ofthe two capitals reflect a certain freedom of the composer’s approach to theatrical embodiment“ Eugene Onegin ”, which opens up the possibility of further readings to contemporary produc-



   The scenic fate of the opera was incredibly successful. Even during the composer’slifetime, the opera was performed on the main stages of Russia and Europe, was popular withprivate troupes, and was staged in the form of student plays and even home plays.On the stage of the Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after Abai “EugeneOnegin” was first staged in 1935. The first performer of the role of Tatiana was the legendaryKulyash Baiseitova. The opera was performed in the Kazakh language. The text was based on thefirst translation of Pushkin’s poem into the Kazakh language by an outstanding poet, educator,the founder of written national literature, Abay Kunanbayev.


   In 1946, the opera was staged in Russian. The main parties were made by Kulyash Bai-seitova and Rishat Abdullin. Since then, the opera has always been in the repertoire of the theat-er. Over the years, the main parts were performed: Muslim Abdullin, Baygali Dosymzhanov, YuriYakunin, Vasily Yakovenko, Era Yepanechnikova, Kenes Baktayev, Nina Radchenko, Vitaly Orlenin,Roza Dzhamanova, Gafiz Yessimov, Sultan Baysultanov, Yermek Serkebaev and Alisher Dnishev.


P.I. Tchaikovsky

«Eugene Onegin»


   We got used for a long time that the Pushkin novel in verses “Eugene Onegin”, is called “the encyclopedia of the Russian life”. And it really is full, versatile reflection of thoughts, feel-ings and the phenomena of life of the beginning of the 19th century. But from the moment of a release of the poem, about it was told and written a lot, it is very much played and thought upthat the avalanche of hints, stereotypes and impressions buried crystal clarity of a Pushkin lookunder a heap of alien meanings and representations. And, only the attentive reader, having madetitanic efforts, will be able to get to the bottom of initial meanings. And, if we speak about theopera, the situation there is even worse. The work of Tchaikovsky was already written “based onmotives”, and it became a superstructure over the novel in order to be able to participate in theparadigm of Russian art, which is included in the necessary “tourist set” along with vodka, bearand balalaika. All this tinsel, which stuck to “Eugene Onegin” for 150 years, doesn’t detract fromthe true merits of a musical work. To break through to own understanding which is not hammeredwith perception of other people to hear this music “for the first time”, efforts it is necessary tospend even more, than when you are reading the novel.


   Audience and listeners should not wait for pseudo-historical credibility from this per-formance. We are interested in the truth, but not credibility. The truth of human feelings, what Stanislavsky called “life of human spirit”: inner world of heroes, “movements of their soul” is alsothe main contents of the opera and in these “movements of soul”, in discrepancies, not contactof feelings, misunderstandings – the main components of this conflict. The right of this treatmentis granted to us by the composer who changed a genre “novel” - comprehensive, philosophical,generalizing - on more chamber - “lyrical scenes”. Except genre change, Tchaikovsky changesalso temporary indicators. The history of Pushkin characters in the opera by Tchaikovsky movesto other era. Not formally, but in fact. Pushkin completed his novel in 1825, Tchaikovsky finishedthe opera in 1878. The composer notes that action of the opera happens in the 20th years ofthe 19th century, but, of course, it allocates the characters with feeling absolutely of other time,“Dostoyevsky’s time” and its own – the last third of the 19th century. In addition, the events ofthe composer’s personal life, his unsuccessful and strange marriage to Antonina Milyukova, ofcourse, was reflected in the music of the opera. We do not meet with Pushkin’s novel, but withTchaikovsky’s opera, a work that is much more sentimental, and at the same time nervous, where the transparent harmony of Pushkin’s time is replaced by hysterical bursts of the end of the cen-tury, a premonition of trouble and change.


   Discrepancy, misunderstanding, vain expectations - these are the inner, spiritual move-ments, which is full of the music of “Eugene Onegin”. “... left so that Onegin on theater will not be interesting. Therefore, those for whom the first condition of the opera is a stage movementwill not be satisfied with it. Those who are able to search in an opera of musical reproductionfar from tragedy, from theatricality, ordinary, simple, universal human feelings, can (I hope) besatisfied with my opera. In short, it is written sincerely, and I put all my hopes on this sincerity,”Tchaikovsky wrote about his opera when it was already written, and the composer began toorchestrate it. It is known that the aspiration to sincerity forced the author to give Onegin for thefirst execution to students of conservatory, but not to the imperial troupes. The author terribly was afraid of theatrical falseness.


   Tchaikovsky’s opera is primarily a story of Tatiana. The composer, in one of the firstletters after the beginning of the composition of the opera, wrote: “I am in love with Tatyana’simage”.


   “Tatyana, not only the provincial young lady who fell in love with the capital dandy. Sheis a virgin soul full of pure feminine beauty, still not touched by touching real life; it’s a dreamyperson, looking vaguely for the ideal and passionately chasing him. Seeing nothing suitable to the ideal, she remains unsatisfied, but calm. But as soon as a face appeared, in appearance differ-ent from the vulgar-provincial environment, she imagined that this was an ideal, and the passion embraced her to oblivion. Pushkin is excellent, brilliantly portrayed the power of this love, and from my earliest years I have always been shocked to the depths of the soul by Tatiana’s deeppoetry after the appearance of Onegin”

(P.I. Tchaikovsky)


   In the 15-minute musical fragment of the letter, Tatyana experiences the strongest hu-man feelings. Her life is changed, it promptly passes a way of women’s growing on which others need years. Her life is changed, she is rapidly passing the path of female maturation, on whichothers need years. At such moments a person is capable of incredible self-sacrifice, which, in fact,becomes the fact of writing a letter to Onegin. She will nevermore experience such emotionaltake-off, such devotion in the life.

“In dreams you have appeared to me,

Though yet unseen, I held you dear” - Tatiana has invested in her recognition all theexpectations, all the passion of her soul, all her love, which were born of rich imagination andFrench novels. She did not want to see the real Onegin, throwing herself to embody her visionsand hopes. And other characters of the opera do not differ in either harmony, or tranquility.All are partly mad: Olga, Lenskiy, Larina, nurse Filippyevna.


   Each of them has its own reasons for this: unfulfilled dreams, their absence or deep disappointment. But only Tatyana it is allowed to pass a way from presentiments before recon-sideration and to full change: from a girl to a mature woman who understands herself and others. Actually, history of Tatyana, as well as other characters of the opera, - out of time, out of an era.It is just human history.


   Everyone who sits in the auditorium can find themselves in this story, each generationis reflected in its own way in the mirror, which is called “Eugene Onegin”. And today’s audienceand listeners will find in “Onegin” something close only to them.

Irina Lychagina (production director, Russia)