Eugene Onegin at Unter den Linden
October 22, 2008
Here is the Opernphrenologe's review of the new Eugene Onegin production at the Berliner Staatsoper. I admit I did some heavy editing to get it closer to the style of the Opera Tattler, but there was only so much I could do. We'll get to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.
* Notes *
After seeing this opera, it can only be concluded that the director Achim Freyer is a gay man with a fetish for mimes. You, dear reader, need not read any further. The rest is only some boring details about the singers and the set and so on. The only important thing to know is that Mr. Freyer loves mimes A Bit Too Much.
On to the boring details for those of you who like pain. Yes, the entire cast was composed of mimes. These mimes did various things. One mime simulated giving birth three times, and pulled the same baby out of her unmentionables three times. In fact, everything happened three times, except for a yellow man and a red man. The mimes went through the same routine.
Most of the mimes were of average size, but there was one mime that was quite round. That was my favorite. What else did the mimes do? There was the regular mime stuff like spinning chairs and moving around quite slowly. They also did mime yoga (downward dog, triangle, half shoulder stand, and warrior). I also liked the part where all of the mimes bounce up and down quite lewdly when Tatjana (and others) sang about love.
The opera was broken up into two parts, with the cut right after Lenski and Onegin challenge each other to a duel. During the first part, the entire stage is white with black "distance lines" on the ground. When Tatjana was weeping over Onegin's rejection, a bunch of little red balls were released to roll down the stage, but they kept on hitting mimes and getting stuck along the way, so it took around 5 minutes for all of the little balls to disappear. Monsieur Trinquet was yellow, and he had to sing his entire solo while doing a complicated shuffling step. He did his part quite well. There were lighted happy face balls at the dance party. At one point, the entire stage was lit in a rainbow, which I believe means that Mr. Freyer is gay.
During the second part, Lenski is shot and the stage turns black. Before he's shot, some man in red stands behind Onegin, a profound statement about something or another I'm sure. Lenski is lit in red, which I'm sure also means something very deep. Then there is a lovely music interlude which is supposed to be Prince Gremin's ball. During most of this time, Lenski is slowly dying. At least, he stands there lit in red as mimes do things. It took a long time. Finally, he keeled over with a loud plop and that was the end of him thank goodness. The mimes went through the third revolution of their yoga, chairs, whatever. Yawn.
I would have been satisfied with this if the singing had been better. Tatjana (Anna Samuil) had too much vibrato. Olga (Maria Gortsevskaya) was quite good, except she was somewhat hesitant on higher notes. Lenski (Rolando Villazón) was nice, except that he was quite nasal (which I wouldn't have noticed if I didn't speak any Russian). He was good for a few chuckles, since I repeated the "I love you" in Russian for the rest of the evening, except through my nose. It sounded just like him! Onegin (Roman Trekel) had absolutely awful pronunciation of Russian and he wasn't very noteworthy one way or the other. Monsieur Trinquet (Stephan Ruegamer) did an excellent job, in fact I think I found his solo the most beautiful out of the entire thing.
* Tattling *
My my, what laughs I had! When the red balls appeared, a man in front of me said very loudly, "Schweine Sinn." Normally I don't like it when people talk, but it was so funny! Unfortunately, the German couple next to me kept on talking until I shushed them. The male half of the couple also kept on squirming, and he made me uncomfortable. Fortunately, he switched places with his (very talkative) female half during the second part.
And there was so much booing! It made me so happy! The Schweinesinn Mann booed quite loudly at the start of the second half, and the conductor responded to the booers by saying something which I didn't understand. Unfortunately, my lovely Schweinesinn Mann left with his Frau five minutes after the start of the second part.